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Saturday Evening Session

Ghana Wesley UM Mission church choir

A Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion was held Saturday evening for members and special guests. (Click here to listen to the service, mp3) The Rev. Lynne Alley-Grant gave the greeting. The Rev. Emmanuel Nkrumah, pastor of Ghana Wesley UM Mission in Northern Virginia, led the opening prayer. His church choir brought special music.

The Rev. Alex Joyner, pastor of Franktown UMC on the Eastern Shore, was the memorial service preacher. His sermon title was "A Love Song for All That Will Not Die."

Joyner recounted his journey to serving a church on the Eastern Shore. He was visiting with a team during a "freakishly cold" spring break and mentioned to then-district superintendent Jim Hewitt that he wouldn't mind serving there. Two weeks later, he found out he had an appointment there.

The Rev. Alex Joyner

Earlier this year he was going back across the bay-bridge tunnel after visiting in hospitals. He had been "across the bay" and he rolled down the window to pay the attendant. When he put the window down, all these memories on a warm Ground Hog's day came flooding. "I suddenly felt glad to be the age that I was," he said.

"I come to sing a love song for all that will not die," Joyner said. "We gather tonight to remember. With each name that is read, a flood of memories will be there in the air. These are people that we name that gave themselves in service to the United Methodist Church. Our minds will be taken back to their personalities, their quirks, sharing meals, laboring together, singing together, and through it all, a grace that made them transparent so the love of God could shine through them."

He talked about: William A. Wright Jr. asking him how things were going when he was a young pastor; Joseph T. Carson Jr. who told him any challenge was an opportunity, a golden opportunity; Elmer Thompson, who led programs that produced so many great preachers. "His letters would put the Apostle Paul to shame," Joyner said. "So many others that we have gathered with their families to remember. These people, clergy and lay, touched lives. They called people to Christ and people responded. They carried something of their past to this place."

Is not life more than the food we eat or the clothes we put on, Joyner asked. "If God feeds birds and adorns the fields that are here today and gone tomorrow, what are you worried about? It's not a call to worry. It's a call to let go of the thing that kills. It's a call to let go of our fears. Fear of failure, doubt of self, suspicion of the strangers knock on the door.

"The word that they proclaimed, the tears they shed, the laughter... these things are born out of love and will not perish. Many waters cannot quench love. God has been to tomorrow. It's in the air, just like all those memories," Joyner proclaimed.

His sermon was followed with an anthem by the choir from Franktown Church.

The Rev. Bob Blinn read each name as a candle was lit and a bell sounded. Members of the congregation were invited to stand if the name of the person read had touches their lives.

A Service of Holy Communion was shared following the reading of the names and all in attendance were invited to take part.


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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