Williston Presbyterian Church
207 Elko Street P.O. Box 391 Williston, South Carolina (803) 266-3623
Rev. Dr. Beth Yarborough, Pastor
August 05, 2020
Some years ago a national magazine printed an article about the AIDS epidemic that emerged in our world 40 years or so ago. The magazine featured a centerfold of a number of thumbnail photos of well-known creative people whose lives were lost to the epidemic. The thought-provoking question was asked, “How many songs went unwritten, paintings left unpainted, books not written, movies never filmed, discoveries undiscovered……”
I’ve been thinking about this as we continue to see numbers of lives lost to the COVID 19 virus. As we tend to think of older adults being the most vulnerable to this disease, the question could be asked, “How many grandchildren and great grandchildren will miss knowing a grandparent or great-grandparent? How many babies will be unrocked, family stories left untold, family recipes never again cooked, family meals unshared?” Who can even fathom the cumulative loss of talent, love, creativity, ideas, stories and memories?
Death happens to all of us eventually, of course. We already have to deal with premature deaths caused by accidents, disease and war. So, the thought of more deaths because of an out of control pandemic is more than we can really take in. We must be diligent. We must be careful. We must not let our guard up. We must continue do all we can to attempt to “flatten the curve.”
Many of my colleagues agree that this is the most challenging time we’ve experienced as pastors. Many times over the past 20 years we have been brought to our knees by horrific events such as the attack on the World Trade Centers, catastrophic weather events, the shock of school and church shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing. But in all of these things, there seemed to be a coming together of people across the country to offer assistance, prayers, rebuilding – whatever it took – until we are able find the path to healing. We don’t forget these events, of course, but the inclination is to forge ahead to support each other through recovery, rebuilding and healing.
This pandemic is different. It is relentless. It appears to have its hooks in us and won’t let go. The moment we venture outside of our homes, the numbers shoot up and we scamper back behind closed doors to safety. Everyone is vulnerable, some more than others. As your pastor, I am restricted from doing all the things that I would ordinarily do for you, the members of my congregation. Because my job is a very “hands-on” job, every facet of my work carries a potential risk to others. Visiting in your homes, a hospital, rehab center, or nursing facility is totally out of the question. Offering a hug or a handshake is risky at best.
All of the catastrophic events of my ministry have driven us into the church to pray and to offer encouragement and healing. In the weeks after 9/11, churches were overflowing with people coming together to make sense of the chaos and to find a glimmer of hope. With this pandemic we are driven out of the church, the one place we would most like to be. This is the my greatest struggle. Not being able to come together in the sanctuary on Sunday morning to worship God, pray and sing together, share the word of God, shake hands and offer hugs runs counter to every bit of my training and study.
As we have worked on the directory – which we hope to have in your hands in the next couple of weeks – I have read over each of your names a lot of times. At every glimpse something comes to mind. It may have been the first time I met you, the time that you were ill or grieving, maybe a time that we celebrated. I miss the regular contact that we are used to and greatly resent the cruelty of separation that this virus has brought upon us. We have a lot of history among us and we must believe that the memories and relationships created will continue to see us through this pandemic. Being the church is like being the kind of friend that no matter how much time has passed, when you finally see each other, it is like little time has passed. Like old friends, we’ll just pick up where we left off.
Social media recently offered a list of things to say when our kids – or any of us – are feeling anxious and scared. Two of these ring particularly true.
- We don’t know what will happen or when this will end. But it won’t last forever.
- We will take it one step at a time and focus on what we do have control over, like doing things that help us to stay safe, taking care of ourselves, and being gentle, forgiving, and kind with each other.
These words offer perspective, truth and hope. They are words that we should tape to the refrigerator door and read every time we dive in to forage for a snack. I encourage you to cling to them as we move forward over the next few weeks and months.
In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.
Karen and Barry Zeigler welcomed two grandchildren in May:
Chloe Hazel Carr (May 20) was born to Brooke Zeigler Austin Carr
Palmer Ann Wooldridge (May 11) was born to Douglas and Kara Wooldridge
Members: Martha Beatty, Tommy Burton, Addie Fanning, Shirley Flynn, Vivian Holliday, Mary Catherine Lindler, Andy Lott, Bernice Smith, Janice Wakefield, The Family of Bo Stillinger
Friends & Family: Debra Ardis (Ruthie’s Niece), Lewis Boice, Rhett Brown, Russell Burkhalter, Dwayne Cagle, Mary Chalker, Jeannie Chavous (co-worker of Mary K.),Glenda & Lanier Clifton ( Mary Kay’s Cousin), Shirley Collins, Jo Criss (Shirley Flynn’s Sister), Linda Dicks, Janet Fisher, Janice Hatfield, (Elaine Lawrence’s Sister), Betty Knotts (Grace’s Sister), Faye McDonald, J.R. McGinnis ( Cathy Ashba’s brother), John McHenry (Mary Kay’s Nephew), Lisa Neal (Chris Dunnaway’s daughter), Pat Ratteree, Bill Ray (co-worker of Bo), Sarah Sanders ( Billy & Alice’s neighbor), Dean & Jean Sample (Kathy Beasley’s parents), John Sheppard (Diane & Johnny’s son), Lisa Simmons (Cathy Ashba’s cousin) May Smith, Linda Still, Rev. Tom Summers, Amy Suratt (Gene Thomas’s daughter), Gene Thomas, Millie Truitt, Joe Waller (Billy’s brother), The Family of Larry Holly (Mary Kay’s Boss), The Family of Glynn Higgenbotham (Marcia Burkhalter’s Uncle), The Family of Dora Everson, (Shirley Flynn’s Sister), The Family of Larry Carpenter, The Family of Dr. Jay Jones, The Family of Mary Jane Jowers, The family of Tammy (Marcia Burckhalter’s cousin)
Local Law Enforcement, First Responders, Medical Personnel, and our Nation’s Leaders
Military: Jeff Collins, (Judy Collins McAlhany’s Grandson) Doug Duncan, (Kathy’s son) Charlie Johnson (Kathy’s Nephew), Bradley Lott, (Andy & Roxanne’s Son), Shane McAlhaney (Andy & Roxanne’s Nephew), and U.S. Military Chaplains