The Beloved Community Found in Other Places

by Rev. Terry Webster, Richwood Presbyterian

In January of 2018, my wife, Rev. Marsha Webster, was diagnosed with cancer. Upon talking to her doctors, we saw that the best course of action was for her to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she would receive a stem cell transplant.  Our time at Mayo could be anywhere from 6 weeks to 100 days, depending on whether they could use her stem cells or have to use donor cells. With this in our future, I made the decision that I was going to retire from my call at the church I had served for 18 years.  We believed that taking this time away from the church was too much to ask. So, in May of 2018, I retired from active ministry.

A few months later, we packed up the car and headed to Mayo, where we didn’t know anyone, and had no support system. On our first Sunday there, we walked a few blocks to First Presbyterian Church of Rochester. It was here that, in many ways, we found the support and care that we needed during our time at Mayo. The people and staff welcomed us, prayed for us, and included us in some of the fellowship activities.  It was a very welcome gift, especially to me as Marsha’s caregiver, since that was really tough being away from people I knew and my family.

I will always be grateful for the people at First Presbyterian, Rochester.  When we got back to Ft. Thomas, we were still without a church but I was fortunate to be invited to interview and serve as interim at Williamsburg.  Several months into our time there, we had to head back up to Mayo for several days for her check-up. Much to both of our delight, we were invited up to the front of the church at the end of worship where the entire church laid hands on both of us and offered prayers.  I had never experienced anything like that.

The Beloved Community is all around us, if only we have the courage to enter in.

These two churches provided a great example of how the global church touched us in ways that we never thought would happen. We are both still grateful for what they did for us.