We never called him pastor or reverend.. We just called him Terry.
Because of him, my family grew together in a supportive community of Faith.
I would sit next to my parents on Sunday mornings, listening to his stories. His tales of faith surrounded me with hope. The lessons he read from scripture danced through my mind with vivid imagery.
His voice articulate and strong, his expression kind, his eyebrows raised and his chin slightly tilted upward as he spoke.
I watched as his lovely wife would sit behind him and fill the church with music. I can recall how he used to sit in the chair to the left of the pulpit and he would cross one leg over the other comfortably and sing along with his wife who was a member of the church choir.
I always remember wondering what she was thinking as she watched her husband preach on Sundays.
He taught me that Faith in God was simple.. There was no need to brag or boast about it..To follow - required discipline, but to do this with a joyful heart brought peace.
I watched as his sons grew from infants, to rascally toddlers, to grade schoolers and finally into talented young men. I watched him raise them and keep them from the madness of the world.
He taught me what it meant to be a mentor..
Because of him, on an unforgettable day in the Spring of 1989 I got kicked off the softball team for refusing to finish practice (bet he does not know this). I watched his church’s steeple fall out of our skyline from the field.. I watched the black smoke bellow and engulf the town of South Weymouth with heartbreak, fear and loss.
He taught me loyalty.
I cried with him as our beloved Old South Union Church went up in flames that terrifyingly heartbreaking day in May. A total loss… An event so tragic, so unthinkable and devastating that it could have destroyed a lesser man’s Faith.
He taught me how humility could fuel courage.
And I sat with my family and cheered for him as he encouraged us to raise our church from the ashes by filling the hole in the sky with love. A seemingly impossible feat we did accomplish as a community – Our beloved Old South Union Church was rebuilt just a few years later.
He taught me to believe. He taught me to remember that a church is not "bricks and wood" -- it is the people....
He sat with me as a teen alongside my parents in my living room and talked with me about dating and relationships.
He taught me to think about the choices I made.
He provided a safe place for me and many others to spend our teen years. His Youth Group was a defining part that gave us a chance to grow together, to learn together and share our gifts with each other without judgment…
Because of him, being a teenager was not so bad.
He taught me the joy found in youth and inspired my husband and I to pass along on his message in our own youth group…
Because of him, we learned that all it takes is the Faith of a mustard seed to make things happen.
He also taught me that “Jr. Birdman” was an actual song… (I'm not so sure that is something to brag about!!!)
Because of him, I learned that being “goofy” was good for the soul..
Because of him, I attended church long after my childhood and teen years had flown by and fostered a faith that has lead me throughout my journey..
He taught me that prayers are always answered (whether you liked it or not) and that you do not need to be a minister to do the Lord’s work... to do good.
This man.. baptized me, married me and has baptized all four of my children.
His gifts shared selflessly.
And as he completes his final year as Pastor and Leader at my hometown church, Old South Union Congregational Church of South Weymouth.. I feel nostalgic – although his journey is not fully over at OSU.. It will be difficult to fill his shoes.. He made church… a safe place.. He made church...Home.
He is a superhero in my eyes… although he’d probably be uncomfortable being called that.
So I will just call him Terry..
And I will just simply just say thank you for providing us with the compass we all so desperately needed as kids and young adults..
Thank you for effortlessly combining the sacred and the secular... And showing so many others that church can be a safe place... a community.. a family.
For that and much more....You have certainly earned your Captain Marvel button…