Ms. Leona

    In 1993, I was assigned as pastor of the Oxford East Charge.  Those of  you that are not familiar with the United Methodist was of doing things, let me give you a little information that will be helpful.  We are appointed to our church by the bishop, and her/his cabinet.  The cabinet is composed of district superintendents who are over a so many churches within a geographical area.  The bishop is also over a geographical area which is not necessarily all of a state.  Some bishops geographical areas stretch  over parts of several states.  Anyway back to 1993.  I had grown a bit disillusioned with Candler School of  Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Don’t ask me why,  but I had.  I requested to come back to Mississippi and take a small church.  I wanted to take a year or two for the purpose of discerning about my life and  ministry.  I ended up with three small churches way out in the country.  The parsonage was right next to the church in a little community called, Tula.  I was a mere kid of 24, and boy was I scared.  I was not scared of the people or the responsibilities that these three churches would require.  I was scared because I had never lived in the country.  I’m not a city boy, but a small town boy.  I knew about street lights and sidewalks, but they were nowhere to be found in Tula.  However, the love and warmth of the people helped me overcome my fears of the “country.” 

The matriarch of the church was a lady by the name of Ms.  Leona Brown.  Ms Leona was  one of the nicest, caring, loving, and Christian women who I have had the privilege to pastor.  Being a pastor is not always the easiest callings to follow.  In order to be an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church one must posses a bachelor’s degree, and then a master of divinity degree from a seminary approved by the United Methodist Church.  This takes 7 years and thousands upon thousands of dollars.  However, the joys far outweigh the pain.  One of the greatest joys of being a pastor is that you get to become a part of people’s lives, and you create lasting friendships.  Ms.  Leona took me under her wing and she treated me like a part of  her family.  Every Sunday she would cook a huge Sunday dinner and about 15 folks would show up and we would eat fried chicken, fresh vegetables of every sort, and any number of fixings that she could get together before church.  Her family as well as the community loved her dearly.  

     This past Monday a week ago I received a call telling me that Ms. Leona had passed away at the ripe old age of 90.  She had lived a full life and up until a stroke about 4 months ago she had still been going full steam.   The family asked me to officiate her funeral and to bring the sermon.  It was an honor to be asked and a privilege to preach her home going service.    It was one of those type of funerals that it flows so well because you knew the person.  Yes, I put my feet under her table a many of a time.  Yes, she could cook.  She was a great Mother.  She raised four kids practically by herself, because he husband passed away at an early age.  However, all of those attributes which all of us loved about Ms. Leona were great, but these things was not the thing that made her great.  The greatest attribute that she had in her life was her love for God made real  in Jesus Christ.  You see, Ms. Leona was not loud and demonstrative about her faith.  Her faith was lived out every day in the way she treated other people, and the things that she did for people.  Things that never will be known til we all reach the light of eternity.  Ms. Leona was a great woman.  She was a great woman of faith.  She will be missed by many. I don’t know what heaven is going to be like.  Scripture gives us but a glimpse.  I do know that the greatest thing about heaven will be that God will be present.  I don’t know if there’s a kitchen in heaven, but if it is Ms Leona’s already at work.  Ms.  Leona you will forever be in the hearts of those that knew and loved you.  I am a better man, and a better preacher for having known Leona Brown.  Till we meet again…

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