Last updated: September 06. 2013 7:52PM - 51 Views

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Lately Ive been thinking about Irma Morris. Irma was a faithful member of the church I served after seminary. She did not drive and thus relied on others for transportation to church. Her husband, a farmer, often dropped her off, and someone else would give her a ride home. She was quite interested in mission work and made two trips to Haiti to serve at the Grace Childrens Home. She was active in our district and conference United Methodist Womens organizations, which was all the more amazing since she didnt drive. She helped our local congregation to remember that there is a world full of hungry and hurting people when we would have preferred to take care of our own and keep our money close to home. Irma was gentle and quiet, but in her own way, she was a leader. These days we have become much more aware of persons who require gluten-free diets, but in those years it was not as well known. One of our members could not eat the cookies at our monthly coffee hour after worship. Irma always made chocolate-covered rice crispy treats for him. Irmas home and attire were common and modest. She and her husband did not demand much for themselves. But they were generous with others and generous with the pastors who served the church. Our older two children were born while we were there, and she liked to give them books. I was always invited to the womens circle meeting at Christmas. They had a $5 gift exchange, and Irma always made sure there was a gift suitable for a man. Sometimes it was a comic book or a silly puzzle. It seemed to be her way of reminding me to laugh. No matter what was happening at the church, in good times and bad, she was there. She may not have always liked the minister, but she remained committed to the church. Once she fell on the church sidewalk and sprained her ankle. I joked to her sister-in-law that Irma might sue the church. She replied, That would be like Irma suing herself! In the later years of her life, Irma developed Alzheimers. When we received a Christmas card from her husband, it was hard for my wife and I to believe how much she had failed from the time we had been part of the church. She died last year. The news media highlights the big stories and big people in the church, especially when there is controversy and conflict. The selection of a pope and decisions of denominational governing bodies are important. Im not saying they dont matter. But such articles tend to overshadow the quiet work of people like Irma. As I read through the church listings each Friday, I cannot help noticing how much we try to entice people to come to our churches because of our attractive programs or clever messages. Its as if we have to put a spin on the Gospel. Im sure every church has some Irmas in it, who quietly and faithfully support its ministries, care for others and remind us that its not about us. They do not make the news because they do not call attention to themselves. But thats what every church needs. I believe the prayers and presence of people like Irma do more for a community than we ever acknowledge. But that should not surprise us. Jesus also shied away from the spectacular, in favor of giving his attention to the least, the lowly and the lost. The Rev.?Philip N. Wilden is the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in?Delaware. Visit asburyohio.org.


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