I’m already beginning to feel “nostalgic” about our time together. Seven years went by awfully fast. I vividly remember being “encouraged” to take my place upon the dunking machine the first week I was here. Nobody thought it was important to let me know that Adam Johnson already had an 80 mile an hour fastball and he was only about 13. Thanks a lot for the heads up. I think he doused me about four times. And of course, every little person under the age of five was given the benefit of the doubt—even if their throw wasn’t within ten feet of the target, there was a VERY helpful adult standing by to be sure the new guy got dunked yet again. I may still be getting water out of my ears.
I remember the day Bob McLeary dressed up as a homeless person---he and I concocted this idea as a “dramatic, visual aid” in support of the sermon that day. His get up was amazing—so much so that I was the only person in the room who knew it was Bob. His appearance startled a few, I think. What I remember most vividly that day was when Bob made his way to the front of the sanctuary and knelt for prayer, Mary Garris came out of the choir loft to kneel with him. I think it took a few seconds before Bob told her who he was, but I was so taken with Mary’s act of hospitality that day.
We have had such fun as a church staff. One day we were celebrating Chris’ birthday. Chris has sort of been our resident “big kid”—I mean that in the best way. So we came up with an idea to blast him with silly string during the staff meeting. What made this moment truly hilarious was that Linda Williford—perhaps our most quiet staff member—gave the command with the loudest voice I had ever heard come out of her. She yelled, “DO IT NOW!!!!” and we all let him have it. Her “do it now” became something of a catchphrase for us for quite a while after.
I absolutely love it when the youth lead worship. I’ve had a chance to see this group grow up and it amazes me how talented and faithful they are. Some of them a few years ago would never utter a sound in public and now they are confident leaders. I dearly love them all.
I never intended to become so connected to what we call “the Pastor’s Class”. We always had it in mind to get this class started and let them fly, but I always enjoyed being with them—so the next thing you know four years goes by and . . . We have had so many great times together and so many fascinating conversations. I won’t forget those.
Our partnership with Congregation Micah will always be near and dear to me. Sharing worship, learning together from folks like A.J. Levine, building relationships—all of it is a foretaste of the Kingdom. I’m convinced of that. I remember one of Micah’s members after we had them here for worship on a Sunday morning and our guests for lunch—she said to me “I had no idea this is how you people worship—I thought it was beautiful and I think I’ll come back.” That was a good day.
There will be more memories for me—just need you to know that they are all good and I’m grateful to you for all of them.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.