I don’t particularly enjoy reading the obituaries every day, but I do—it is something of an occupational hazard. Having served 14 different churches in our conference over these 40 plus years has given me the great honor of knowing a lot of people in different cities. Often times I can see the news of those who have died and remember. Many times I will reach out to the family at those times just to share my sympathy.
Just today came news of an old friend from Columbia, Joe Lancaster. Joe was a perfectly splendid human being. I actually was his father’s pastor many years before in Gordonsville. I loved Joe and his wife, Betty. He was a very accomplished man who will be hard to replace.
Recently I stumbled over the obit for a man from Hendersonville whom I did not know—but I was intrigued by his obit. His name was James Howell. The obit didn’t list a church connection so I don’t know if he was a “believer” or not.
What struck me was a “lifetime” project he undertook. Almost single-handedly he decided to take on the renovation and restoration of the old, abandoned Isaac Litton High School Gymnasium in East Nashville. James spent 13 years raising the funds needed to complete the project. He raised millions of dollars restoring that space—re-purposing that space—so that it could be utilized by children and youth in the neighborhood.
That space has now been designated as a Metro City Park and is home to an organization called “Backfield In Motion,” a nonprofit that caters to the after school needs of underprivileged children by feeding them, helping them with schoolwork, and leading sports programs.
There are people who understand the value of “planting Sequoias.” Do you understand that reference? People who recognize the need to plant seeds they may never see come to fruition, but know those kinds of seeds must be planted, nonetheless.
Recently, our congregation received a gift from the Estate of Frances Stribling. That gift amounted to $75,000 and has been designated as “The Frances S. Stribling Property Fund” and a permanent part of Belle Meade UMC’s Endowment. This is a fund we hope to grow over time that can help us to maintain our facility so that we can do the ministries we’ve been called to do.
Frances and Gene recognized the need to “plant a Sequoia”—a seed that will look small next to the task, but over time will grow into something strong and lasting.
Do you recognize a Sequoia that needs to be planted??