“For All the Saints” rang out as the procession of those participating and leading the annual Memorial Service entered and took their places on the platform. Held annually to recall the ministry of those who have entered the Church Triumphant, the names of 18 clergy members and 23 spouses were spoken to the sound of a tolling bell.
Fairway District Superintendent Ray Broadwell preached from Matthew 5:1-16, noting that it “describes those we remember and celebrate this morning.”
He continued, “The ones we remember are the Saints of God who have given themselves. How do we say thanks? By honoring their ministries, over 740 years of ministry in the NC Conference, serving in many kinds of settings. These saints of God understood that ministry is not about us; it is not about self. It’s best described by words like ‘service’, ‘sacrifice’, and ‘servanthood’….These saints embodied the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Broadwell continued by thanking the families, reminding the congregation that they also sacrificed, often missing their loved one at dinners, bedtimes, and other family times. Broadwell summed up the themes from their families’ experiences, “Ministry is not a job, but an act of service.” He continued for the good of the congregation, “Have a heart that beats on fire for Jesus and justice; believe in the value of every person. Every person is of sacred worth and value.”
Referring to a story he told of a girl who counted the stars to thank God for each person in her life, he asked, “How do we say thanks to these saints of God and their families? Look at the stars; there just are not enough stars to go around.” Remembering the contributions to ministry made by the families, Broadwell emphasized the depth of commitment of both pastor and family.
For each of these and their ministry, his message made more poignant the response after the reading of each name, “Thank you, Lord, for this, your servant.”