Happy Fourth of July! I hope each of you were able to relax and enjoy time with family and friends this past weekend.
I am curious if you knew that we have at least 62 U.S. Veterans in our congregation? No matter your political convictions, I think Independence Day is a time we can place differences aside and say thank you to all who have served our country.
On that note, I wanted to talk with you about one of our pastoral care ministries that you may be unaware of…
In 2017, our former congregational nurse Maggie Turner and parish associate Rev. Doug McLeroy began a group called “The Veterans Fellowship.” Maggie and Doug searched out and learned about members of our congregation who served in WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, The Cold War, and most recently the Gulf Wars. They found 62 people who served.
We have had quarterly gatherings where these members have come together for conversation, for prayer, for education about how this part of their life is as integral to who they are as their baptized Christian identity.
In learning about the life of a U.S. veteran, Rev. Doug McLeroy shared this with me:
“The Veterans who gather through the FPC Veterans Fellowship have deepened their relationship to each other. Veterans bond quickly to another vet. When they get together you can see them come alive. They tell their stories and connect. They remember a time in their youth where they risked their lives to serve and protect our freedoms. For some, It was the most meaningful thing they did in life. They relive what was most meaningful in their lives. Their service means we can keep worshiping as we do. Make no mistake, if it were not for them FPC may well not exist. “
I think about my Great Uncle Felix Willey who “stormed the beaches of Normandy” as part of a larger plan to take care of those who were being imprisoned by Nazi Germany, I am thankful for his courageous and selfless offering of time and talent as a gifted physician. He was also a deeply religious man who, following his service in the war as a doctor, returned to his hometown and spent the rest of his life offering medical care for people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Lately, when I am out and about, I stop and thank those who have offered service to our country. Whether it is the older adult wearing a ballcap that alerts me of their service, or most recently in the airport, encountering young adults like my nephew who serves in the Army who are wearing their required uniforms when they travel. I try and remind myself that God calls us to care for and serve others in many different ways. These folks are children of God who chose to serve our country.
On Wednesday, July 14, the FPC Veterans’ Fellowship will gather at the Carolina Field of Honor in Kernersville along with their spouses and caregivers. I am excited that our new Senior Pastor Jill Duffield and I will be there to celebrate them and enjoy lunch. If you can, take a moment that Wednesday and thank God for these members of our congregation and how they have chosen to use their gifts and talents.
Veterans Fellowship: If you are planning to attend and haven’t yet RSVP’d, please call Debbie Foster at 336-687-0100 or Doug McLeroy at 336-279-5441 by this Wednesday, July 7.