I Am Proud to Be Part of You!

The week of December 18 through 24 had to be one of the saddest in the history of this congregation. On Monday we said our good-byes to Jeremy Harper after a tragic accident took his life. We sought to extend our comfort to his parents, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—many of whom are members of this congregation.

Tuesday we said farewell to George Thompson. After a long and valiant fight, George surrendered to the devastation of Parkinson’s disease. Again, we sought to extend comfort to Margaret, his sons, and his daughter.

Thursday we still again said good-bye to Thelma Blackburn as we sought to extend comfort to her daughter and extended family. Thelma at 94 had been sick for years and was unable to be with her spiritual family for so long.

For a few hours Friday night, it seemed sadness would visit us again. Jess Huff in a state of extreme confusion and weakness disappeared. Thankfully he was found in good condition after many of you spent a nervous period of anxiety and prayer.

I was proud of all the expressions of concern and outpouring of helpfulness throughout the week—everything from food coordination to visits! As powerful as all the expressions were on Monday and Tuesday, nothing made me more proud than the support the congregation gave the Blackburn family on Thursday.

Jeremy we knew. He grew up in this congregation. We saw his family every week. Roy was a part of the staff here for over 25 years and is now one of our elders. George and Margaret were here every week. He and Margaret were a weekly illustration of courage and faith in trying circumstances. Just their presence gave many of us strength.

Thelma was not known by many of us. She had been seriously ill for years. The past two years she suffered from Alzheimer’s Dementia. Illness and age prevented her from attending. And yet many who never met her were present Thursday to extend caring and comfort to the family. The family wanted her funeral in our auditorium. The full family numbered considerable less than twenty—in a room that would seat almost a thousand!

I have no doubt that we all were emotionally and physically exhausted that Thursday. It was a demanding, exhausting week! Still to come was Christmas day in only three days. Yet, you still came and in your weariness once again extended comfort by your presence and your words.

The biggest message we have to share with our community is who we are by virtue of Jesus Christ’s blessings and influence in our lives. In today’s realities, that is declared as certainly by our priorities in our lives as by our words. Last week you made a powerful statement by demonstrating your priorities. Thank you!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 29 December 2005

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