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  • Writer's pictureMemorial Fernandina

August 25th, 2023 | Rev. Rachel Williams

Last Sunday will stay with me as the most memorable start to a ministry appointment. I’m not even writing specifically about Charlie’s absence, or the quick pivot to a digital sermon, or the whirlwind of three services, but I’m thinking about the generosity and hospitality my family received from the Memorial community. I was told time and again on our visit this past July that Fernandina Beach has the friendliest people, and that statement remains true. You welcomed my noisy, cackling toddler into 8 AM service with smiles. You offered us food and moving assistance and general advice which we will cherish. You also offered your trust, before you even met me, that I would be someone who could worship and lead alongside Charlie, the incredible staff, and our devoted congregation of lay servants. Thank you for that generosity.

Something else that stuck with me Sunday was Charlie’s “preaching in” for my time here at Memorial. I’m not typically one to be overcome by emotion, but Charlie’s message managed to bring tears to my eyes as he preached these words from 2 Timothy 1:5:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois

and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also.”

Charlie mentioned in the sermon that I was a Pastor’s Kid (PK for short). My dad has served for over thirty years as an ordained elder in the Florida Conference. I’m also a pastor and missionary’s grandkid. From both my dad and my grandpa I have learned lessons on ministry, theology, and leadership. But when I reflect on this line, I think about my own grandmother, Carole, and my own mother, Debbie, who have served as faithful leaders in their spouse’s churches- without the title of elder- while also raising children and wrangling pets and managing the mundane household obligations. Mom and grandma both went to divinity school, but they followed their call and gifts into lay ministry and Christian education. And in doing so, they instilled in their children, and many other people’s children, a deep love of God and others. I’m sure there are people you can think of from your own past that had this impact on you. Because of the faith I learned from my family, I am the first woman in our family on the path toward ordained ministry. I’m excited to share my faith with you all, so that we may share our gifts together in ministry.

In this next week, I ask that you continue to pray for Pastor Charlie, Margaret, and his whole family as they navigate the grief and sorrow that comes with losing a beloved family member. Join me in thanking our staff for all that they’ve done in this time of transition. And thank you for loving my family so well this past week (and weeks before!).

I look forward to walking in ministry and life with you all!

With Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rachel

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