Quiet servants help during memorials
June 2022 (Tidings magazine) - Many members of First Church may not be aware of a small group of people who serve, quietly and without fanfare, on the Bereavement Greeting Team. Some of these team members have served in this way for many years and others are newer additions, but all of them show up, sometimes more than once a week, to share the love of Christ with people who are grieving a loss. Their service may seem very small – opening a door, helping someone choose the correct floor in the elevator, or handing someone a bulletin – but these acts of service communicate God’s loving care and steadfast presence to people who are mourning a loss.
Gary Mathews writes, “I try to be present for as many services as possible. We provide a welcoming presence to assist people who may not be familiar with the church facilities. My family was served by this team when my wife passed away a couple years ago and I’m forever grateful for their presence as they assisted my family members, some of whom came long distances. We serve in any type of weather because the families deserve to have a warm greeting and welcome to our church so they can focus on grieving and precious memories.”
“Serving at memorial services is a way to share peace. Few words are spoken; however, a kind greeting is strengthening.” – Linda Campbell
Another team member shared, “I’ve been on the receiving end of this ministry. Losing a family member is not ever easy, but it is especially confusing when the loss is unexpected. We all struggle with the same ‘how’ and ‘whys’ as we process the absence of a person you’ve known your whole life. Years have passed but I still remember each and every person who took the time to greet or serve that day. Steve Caldwell was the first person I saw as I pulled into the parking lot. He showed me where to park. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? We all know how to drive and park a car. But that day, I couldn’t have parked a bicycle on the sidewalk. Rick Spellman opened the courtyard atrium door. Joan Hoar stood at the foot of the atrium stairs. Robbie Burke was stationed at the door to the family room. She handed me a Kleenex and told me to wipe my nose, bless her. Patricia, Gary, Nelda, Doug, Larry, Cindy, Linda, James, Cathy. I held the door open for Debbi Spellman at the All Saint’s Service this year and thought of all the times Rick served at that same door. What an honor. I also served at Robbie’s funeral. Why? 1 John 4:19 is the short answer, but I could give you a longer one if you want.”
Joan Hoar comments, “Not long after the newly constructed areas of the church were opened, I noticed a bit of uncertainty as to where to go and which floor to select when using the atrium elevator. This led to my assignment, jokingly referred to as the CEO (chief elevator operator) of the Bereavement Greeting Team. At times I felt like a British policeman directing traffic, with arms and hands waving to indicate restrooms, stairs, elevator, and hallways, and, most importantly, stopping traffic as the family was quietly led to the front entrance of the sanctuary by the pastor. The “CEO” title has been one of my favorite volunteer titles. It requires no meetings, no notes or minutes kept, no reports – just say ‘yes’ when notified of a need.”
Elizabeth DeVore shares, “The bereavement ministry is very special and unique. When a friend’s loved one dies it is hard to know what to do or what to say. Having the opportunity to greet, usher or host at a memorial service is a way to extend the love of Christ during those difficult times. I sincerely enjoy serving in this ministry.”
The church could use a few more members on this wonderful team. The only requirement is having the flexibility to serve during the day and a heart for service. If you are interested, please contact Kathy Wilson at 918-301-1029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author:
Kathy Wilson has been a member of First Church since joining as a confirmand in 1972 and has been on staff since 2018. One of her responsibilities is coordinating memorial services.