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You could say I have roots in First Presbyterian Church of Athens

Congregational Care Commission, Harry Shuford, Jr.
July 17, 2016

You could say I have roots in First Presbyterian Church of Athens. I tell people “I grew up here.” A lot of significant events in my life have happened here. My family started coming to church at First Presbyterian when I was five years old, shortly after we moved here in 1962. My brother Jimmy and I were baptized together here when I was nine, about the time of his first birthday. I met my wife Hilary here in sixth grade Sunday school class. I went to confirmation class and joined the church here. Hilary and I were married here in 1989. I was ordained as an elder here in the 1990s.

Then, in 2001 we moved away from Athens to Northwest Ohio, and in 2009 we moved to Texas. We were able to move back to Athens in early January 2014.

The story of my rejoining First Presbyterian goes like this—-The moving company delivered our furniture in Athens on Tuesday. Sunday morning we came to church here. THAT night I attended the new member class that was starting. I must hold a record for the fastest time someone has moved to Athens and joined our church. But where else would I be?

We all have our stories about how we are rooted to this place. Stories about how First Presbyterian Church of Athens has been a place for significant events in our life.

About six months ago I became part of the Congregational Care Commission. This is a new experience for me personally. I’m a numbers person. I served our church previously on the Finance Commission and as Treasurer. This is out of my comfort zone. It’s a stretch. But it’s been great, fun, meaningful. And I have a great role model in my mom, Betty Shuford, who great gifts of hospitality and caring.

I serve on Congregational Care with talented people. Elder Sue Gray leads our Senior Adult Ministry. She’s quite an artist. With Sue’s leadership we are planning Senior Adult Sunday for August 28, a worship service and a reception to recognize and honor our senior adults.

And Elder Arlene Shirley is leading our Correspondence Team. She tells me she’s improving her letter writing skills this year! She’s getting a lot of practice. Each week they reach out to our church members and our extended church family with cards and letters, offering congratulations, or sympathy, or healing wishes, or just to connect and let someone know we are thinking about them.

But, in addition to the Elders I serve with, what I’ve been most inspired by so far are the large number of people in our congregation who are part of our ministry. Today I want to especially say thank you to all of the many dozens of you “quiet saints” of the church who help Congregational Care. Together we reach out, help nurture, care for, and respond to the pastoral needs of our congregation.

Thank you to those that prepare and deliver food, to those who host funeral and memorial receptions, to the people who pray on our Prayer Chain, to our Lay Callers.

And finally, thank you to our Flower Ministry volunteers. This ministry reaches out with the beautiful flowers that our Flower Committee arranges for our Sunday service. The Flower Ministry takes these flowers; they make new arrangements, and deliver to our homebound and Senior Care members a ministry of flowers, cards, worship bulletins, and visitation. Thank you.

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