I've seen the California Redwoods up close. Our family visited Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco, when I was in high school. The trees there reach over 250 feet into the sky. Their trunks are massive - can you picture images of cars driving through them in decades gone by? You can appreciate their size only so much when you are standing beside them. You have to get some distance to really get a sense of how large they are when compared to others around them.
This is how I am feeling today. I was asked, a few weeks back, to write the official memoir for the South Georgia Conference records for my grandmother, Augusta Carruth. She was, of course, a pastor’s spouse in the Conference, and their lives are memorialized along with the pastors. But, she was, in many ways, more than a spouse and more than a mother and grandmother. Along with raising three children of her own, she volunteered in every church they were in as a She stood no taller than 5'1", but she was a giant in my eyes. School teacher and MYF counselor. For 40 years she worked with teenagers and children. That makes her a saint, right? She was active in the Methodist Women’s groups of her local church dating back to when she was 27 years old. She remained active until Alzheimer’s took that away in her late 80s. She died of that at the age of 92, but it never made a dent in the legacy she’s left behind. Beyond the local church, she was a leader at the District and Conference level for decades. She was elected to represent South Georgia at General Conference six times, and three times attended the World Methodist Conference. She wrote curricula for women in Latin America, and helped oversee the global work of the UMW for 8 years as a lay director. She read every day and was sharper on current events that any person I’ve met in years. She was passionate, and kind, and had a smile that could turn complete strangers into fast friends. She did a dozen more things and loved the Gospel in a hundred other ways.I've been given a 500 word maximum to try and cover her life. It cannot be done. Like the redwoods on the West Coast that are too tall to appreciate without some perspective, the eleven months since her passing have only helped me to fully grasp her soaring reach in my life and in the world. I am in awe of how one life can mean so much.
And then I think of Epworth. Epworth has been shaped by lives that are larger than any brief word can do justice. Epworth continues to be led by those whose reach is enormous and whose faith is rooted deeply. May we stop, from time to time, to appreciate those around us. Grace and peace, Scott