All Saints’ Day has long been celebrated in many denominations. However, it was not ever mentioned in the Southern Baptist churches that nurtured me during my childhood through my senior adult years. It was only when I became a member of First Baptist of Chattanooga, TN, that I became aware of this meaningful church celebration.
As we entered the vestibule leading into our church sanctuary this past Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 2019, a video of our church members who died within this past year was being shown. I lingered to view each snippet but my heart locks in on three of them: Jane Akers, Katharine Bruner, and Sue McNeil.
I cherished Katsy’s wit and the twinkle in her eyes. It seemed to me we were always on the same page.
Sue McNeil daily fought a battle with cancer. When I served as prayer chairperson for our class I’d get a lump in my throat every time I looked in her direction. Sue never grumbled or complained. It seemed to me her very presence was a beseeching prayer. As she did battle with cancer, Sue continued to enjoy her host of friends and her family. She took trips even when health issues were pelting her reserves.
Jane Akers and I were soul buddies. I never needed to ask where Jane stood when it came to gender issues. She participated each year in Gay Pride Sundays in Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park while personally ministering to many who had fallen victim to AIDS. Her platform of love in action included responding to any type of racial injustice.
Jane was also an avid gardener. Her backyard was eco-friendly to all of God’s creatures, both great and small. One year while I was still living at my home in Rossville she invited me to share in the bounty of her garden and, she loaded my trunk with Hosta plants.
Jane possessed a keen mind and a loving heart. She loved to laugh. Jane was intent on breaking barriers that separated and pigeon-holed groups of individuals.
How blessed is my journey to have traveled with such spiritual mentors as Katharine Bruner, Sue McNeil, and Jane Akers. I hope certain moments in time also evoke special memories of your passed loved ones for you.