In our morning worship service Sunday, November 5, 2017, we remembered the communion of saints who accompany us in all our earthly endeavors. We were reminded that we do not ever grieve without first loving … and we do not ever love without gaining more than we could ever lose. Every life, every relationship is a gift, for which we should be grateful, and so, even in the darkest of valleys, we still have a choice. We can choose a grief greater than our gratitude, or we can choose a gratitude greater than our grief. We celebrate, with gratitude, the lives of Arthur Haskins, Frances Griffith, and Mary McKenney — three saints who have walked on to that which is next.
Arthur Haskins stumbled upon Union Avenue Christian Church one Sunday evening back in 2001. He began attending our Sunday evening “blues worship” services and soon after he found a second home in our morning worship services as well. Arthur served in the United States Marine Corps, worked as a line cook, walked thousands of miles around this great city that he loved, and he fed the other residents of the boarding house he lived in with food, compassion, and care. In his final act of compassion and love, Arthur donated his body to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine so that young doctors in training might benefit from his life, here, on earth.
We light this candle today to celebrate the life of Arthur Haskins.
Frances Griffith grew up attending Sunday morning worship services among the Berean Fellowship of Union Avenue Christian Church. She was the hearing daughter of deaf parents. Frances lived a long and sometimes very difficult life. She was widowed 10 days after her only son, Gary, was born … she was 18 years old at the time. In her later years, she required care in the Alzheimer’s unit at Bethesda Dilworth. But even as her memory faltered and failed, she recalled fondly all her years spent at Union Avenue Christian Church.
We light this candle today to celebrate the life of Francis Griffith.
Mary McKenney — our dear, beloved friend Mary — passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 3, 2016, after a nearly seven-year-battle with cancer. The daughter of an American Baptist minister, she possessed a strong and abiding faith. Mary raised three strong, beautiful daughters, and she was a doting grandmother in the presence of her two grandsons. She taught us the meaning of perseverance … she demonstrated great faith in the shadow of overwhelming odds … she rode a camel – TWICE!! – she made us laugh with her sharp wit, sarcastic jabs, keen sense of humor and impecable timing … she taught thousands of children about the joy to be found in music … she rode an elephant … and a yak!! just because she could … she was a marvelous musician … and she made each of us feel special because she was our friend! She brought Bob Settle into our midst, and she later married him … perhaps to remind us to never give up on true love.
We light this candle today to celebrate the life of Mary Margaret McKenney.
And finally, we light this one last candle today to remember and celebrate the friends and family members whom we hold dear and have walked on to that which is next.