Mike (my husband) was enjoying his weekly Monday lunch on December 6, with six other clergy (his wonderful accountability/support group that has been meeting for fifteen years) when his cell phone rang. The caller's number was unfamiliar, but he soon discovered it was from a friend from Duke Divinity School, who pastors a United Methodist church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
His friend told Mike about a family in his congregation who were in the process of moving to Fishers, Indiana, near where we live. The friend asked Mike to connect with the family, not only to welcome them to the area, but to care for them as soon as possible. The family had just lost twins born at 23 weeks in November. There had been a memorial service in Raleigh, but the family wanted to bury the children in Fishers. Mike copied the husband's cell phone number and continued the ministry his friend started.
Mike mentioned the family in his mid-week message, asking for meals and/or other kindnesses to embrace the family at a very difficult time. That same day, enough people responded so that the family had meals every night for three weeks. Cards and visits came for the grieving parents.
When I spent time with the family after the short service at the cemetery on December 18, they commented that they didn't even know what the church looked like, but they surely felt God's love in a new town where they knew no one. I share the story because of the way our connectional system can access easily churches and pastors in a specific area. Although there are two United Methodist churches in Fishers, finding Mike's name as the pastor of one of the churches, made a familiar connection from the beginning.
I also know a United Methodist pastor at another church who leads a support group for parent's who have lost children. When I contacted her, she mentioned that there are two families in the group who had also lost twins this year. I plan to go with the family to the January meeting, hoping to make another connection that will provide a place for them to grieve and heal.
Reflecting on the series of events I was grateful for the way God's love transferred from one congregation to another without "lost time." I truly believe that the thread that binds all congregations and pastors together worked for good in this family's life.
God, we are thankful for the way you use clergy to make connections to keep the flow of your love moving toward hearts that need your care. Amen.
Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana