Saints Among Us – Pastor Patty

Thirty years ago this month, my husband and I joined First United Methodist Church in McKinney, Texas. We eased into the life of the church through our Sunday school class and grew closer to our church brothers and sisters through Disciple Bible Studies, missions, groups, and leadership opportunities. Our children found their happy places in Sunday school, children’s choirs, and activities led by smiling volunteers who loved them. As a family, our lives have been shaped and inspired by the saints who welcomed us into a church family that existed long before we got here and bears the imprint of their love and faithfulness in ongoing mission and ministries of love and grace.

Over the years, I have heard hundreds of names read on All Saints Sundays in remembrance of those who passed away in the year before—saints who touched lives and left legacies intertwined with the life of the church. I see them everywhere in my fondest memories. Greeters like Judy Helsley standing at her post each week by the front door. Laud Howell, always looking for and noticing the newcomers and guiding me by the elbow to meet them. John Jensen holding the door with a big smile. Speaking of smiles, I see the colorful hair and oversize shoes of Jim Norman, who started a clown ministry. I remember the behind-the-scenes saints like Joe McMahan who diligently managed Sunday school attendance records for decades. I hear Opal Ann King singing “Oh Holy Night” on Christmas Eve with the voice of an angel. I see trailblazers like Mary Will Craig, the first woman to chair the Church Board.

Teachers. Leaders. Servants. Mentors. Friends. Family. Saints. Generous, loving people with deep convictions rooted in following Jesus and responding to his call on our lives to love God and neighbor. People with varying backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, who found their way to this church on different paths. Yet, they unite with shared purpose as loving people of God.

The saints join hearts and hands through both the celebrations and the challenges. I remember the comfort of Cleayton Mills assuring me that he “had my back” through difficult times in leadership, reminding me that we serve together, not alone. Over centuries, our church has weathered storms of nature and storms of economic depression, war, racism, public health crises, and now a deadly pandemic on top of a contentious political season
We stand together as the church, not because we are of one mind, but because we are of one heart—the heart of Christ. What we share as the church, the body of Christ, binds us in love that is stronger than anything we may encounter. As we navigate these days and live into our ministries, I pray that we hold fast to what is good and with gratitude draw deep from the well of wisdom lived out so faithfully by the saints who came before us and those who walk among us.

Be well friends, walk in hope, and trust the God of love who holds the future. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)

Grace and peace to you dear ones,
Rev. Patty Froehlich