This week was a special time of remembrance for me. It was on October 13th, 37 years ago, that my wife Phyllis and I, and our 1 year old daughter, Leah, moved from our apartment in Plainfield to a new home– the parsonage next-door to the Second Baptist Church, Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
It was a day filled with joy and excitement. The Cross Moving Company, which was owned by a faithful church Trustee of Second Baptist, Oscar Cross, assisted us with our move. Oscar Cross and his sons came that morning to get our belongings out of the Plainfield apartment. From there, we went to my parents’ home in Scotch Plains and they gave us their deep freezer that they had in the garage. Since they were empty-nesters, they wanted us to have it. We picked it up and had a great visit with my father (Mother was at work at the time). As we got ready to go, my father hugged the baby, and us. Then we left to continue on with our move.
We moved on down the Parkway to Second Baptist Church. I went across the grassy knoll between the properties to wave at the senior choir who was having practice on Thursday evening. Those were exciting days!
Not even an hour later, at 6:15pm, Deacon Robert Chapman, Chairman of the Board, rang our doorbell, and informed me that my mother had just called on the church phone– our phone wasn’t connected yet. Deacon Chapman said to me, “Your mother just called, and your father just passed away!”
In a flurry, we gathered up a few necessities, scooped up our young daughter, and rushed to the car. We rushed over to my parents’ home with just with our baby and a suitcase in hand.
The street was packed with neighbors, family, my Pastor, ambulances, and the fire department.
He was gone.
My father had suffered from heart disease and succumbed to his third heart attack at 53 years old. My mother was widowed at 50. I was 26.
The beginning of my tenure at The Church was charred with deep grief.
I remember my father today, my grieving mother, and my ever-supportive wife. I also remember the Second Baptist Church Family; loving, warm, supportive.
Well, the Church Vote was in September, and I preached as Pastor, the fourth Sunday of October. It has been a blessing this week to be able to look back on all that God has done over the years. This week’s Facebook LIVE and podcast has been dedicated to sharing the many beautiful highlights of this 37-year journey. If you missed it, be sure to download and listen here: https://apple.co/2D3X178
If there is one thing that I have learned over the years and one encouragement that I could offer to the next generation as they start out on what God has called them to do it is this: The way you build something that will have longevity is by hanging in there. It is not enough to start it. You have to stay with it and leave the legacy for others. Longevity gives birth to legacy. And you have too strong of a legacy to give up now!
For me, it has been 37 years of ministry in Perth Amboy (and beyond!), and God was and still is faithful! I encourage the next generation to step out and SAY YES! God is still on the throne and He will see you through.