For the worship service this week, I am honored to have collaborated with two women who have helped make my time here extra special: Susan Shewmaker and Lydia Ellis.
Anytime I needed to be away or was planning to take vacation, Susan was the first person I’d call. I met her on my very first Sunday, and I quickly learned of her many years of experience as a part-time church musician – all while she was working full-time as a K-12 music educator. Newly retired from both of these roles, she was interested in keeping her skills up and helping out where she was needed. It didn’t take long for me to realize I could “unplug” and not worry about anything at church when I was on vacation; Susan would very ably handle it! In addition to our love of music, Susan and I share a dry, self-deprecating humor, and we’ve enjoyed many good, hearty laughs over the years. Thanks for always being there, Susan!
I think I was about a month into my job when Jim Stewart came to find me in the choir loft after worship one Sunday. “There’s somebody I want to introduce you to,” he said. He took me into the Fellowship Hall, where I was greeted by a woman seated in a wheelchair and a HUGE smile on her face. At that point, Lydia was nearing the two-year anniversary of her fateful strokes. I wish I had a quarter for every time someone has said to me, “It’s too bad you never heard her play the flute!” I’ve always been struck at (and a bit envious of) Lydia’s determination, confidence, and perseverance. Whether it’s setting a goal of walking a bit further unaided, or re-gaining muscle tone in her “bad leg,” or finding a Native American flute that she can operate with one hand, Lydia just never lets down until she has conquered her quest. Thanks for inspiring me, Lydia!
I wish I could name and write a paragraph about everyone at this church that is dear to me. But that would turn into a multi-volume memoir! Suffice it to say, I will miss Susan, Lydia, and the scores of other folks from The Presbyterian Church of Danville who have loved and supported me. All y’all (!) will always be in my heart.