32 Years. Over three decades. Can you image the impact? My dad accepted the call to our tiny little part of Virginia when I was just 18mos old.
Sparta, Va and Salem Baptist Church are all I have ever known. I meet people all of the time who moved 2, 3,4 even 5 times as a child and I just can’t imagine. All I have ever known is our rural town, our church family in the middle of the countryside and my dad being a leader in our community. We lived the stereotypical small town life. There was only one high school in the entire county and it took us 20 minutes to get there. We drove over 45 mins to get to a great shopping mall and a movie theater seems like something you only did on a HUGE occasion!! I’m sure my parents felt a little culture shocked when they were in their late 20’s and left Northern Virginia to come and start a new life in Caroline County. They had no idea that this would be the start of a beautiful 30+ year journey together.
Until this month, my dad has been the pastor of Salem Baptist Church for over 30 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything so bittersweet in my life. This place isn’t just my home, it’s Michael’s home as well. We grew up together and the majority of our life was spent running around and doing life at the pretty white church at the top of the hill. My parents had Emily soon after we moved there, Corey came a few years later. Together with other young families at the church that were in a similar season of life, they formed friendships and a community that was rare, unique and beautiful.
I could spend days writing out memories of my childhood and thoughts about my dad and his role in our church and community… but instead of spending days and days writing it all out, I spent days (and some late, post-bedtime nights!) working on something that I will cherish forever. If I’ve seemed a little MIA on Instagram and in our education community this past month, it’s because I have been working hard on this video that tells the story of my Dad’s life as a pastor. What started off as a slideshow turned into my own version of a Netflix documentary. As I interviewed old friends, read letters from people in the community and pieced together this video, I found myself learning so much about ministry and also having the beliefs I’ve always had about my dad strengthened and confirmed over and over and over again.
Imagine thinking that your dad is steadfast, full of integrity and is genuine to his core and then hearing person after person after person say the same thing about him all day long. I couldn’t be more proud to be his.
Daddy, I’ve learned so much from you. As I look at my life now and the role’s God has given me in this world, I can’t help but see the parts of you that I desire to emulate. You’re a servant leader. You mop the church floors, not because you want people to see you doing it (because I’ve seen you spend hours doing that when no one was around) but because it’s something that needs to be done and it just makes sense to you to do it… but the reason this is so fascinating to everyone is because most people in a leadership position would assume someone else should just do that because they would have more important things to do with their time… but not you. That’s the other thing I desire to emulate as a leader. I am so thankful that you have never put yourself on a pedestal. What I’ve learned from your impact and your leadership is that the more you stay down to earth and don’t dwell on your “position”, the more connected you remain to those you’re leading. I am so thankful that no matter what role you’re in… whether you’re in dad mode, Pastor Kevin mode, Grandaddy mode, etc, you’re always the same. That aspect of you isn’t just a sweet compliment, it’s the core reason why you are so trusted. You have faithfully carried decades of hard truths and secrets and scars of people in the church and in the community. You have been trusted with so much because you are so trustworthy and you are so trustworthy because more than anything, you answer to Jesus and no one else.
I could go on… but I won’t… because this video really says it all.
I know after your celebration, it felt like you attended your own funeral. We spent two hours telling stories and thanking God for what He did through you these past 30+ years and we could have stayed for many more. You are such a gift and I’m so grateful for you. Happy Retirement Grandaddy!! I’m sad to see an official end to our beautiful season as a family in Sparta, but so thankful to have you and Mimi right down the road. The best is yet to come. :)
To all of you who don’t know my dad…. you can get to know so much of him in this video. Enjoy :)
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This day was just perfection. I knew it would be from the moment Caitlin emailed me about being a part of their day. She and Devon are in the photography industry and I knew they would put a high value on the creative side of their day.