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Friday, April 22, 2005

The Green Reunion

J.  R. and Ethel Green 50th anniversary

J. R. and Ethel McCall Green
50th Anniversary

I never knew these people. They were my wife's maternal grandparents, and both of them had passed away by around 1960.

J. R. Green was a Wesleyan pastor. He pastored in a lot of places. I think the average tenure in those days was about 3 years. One of the churches he founded was way out in the country, miles from even a place to buy bread. It still is isolated. A small congregation, not Wesleyans, worships there now.

Mrs. Green worked, as a mother, and, like most people in upstate South Carolina at that time, in the cotton mills. My mother-in-law used to tell how her mother would visit homes where someone had died in the flu epidemic of 1918, and would make shrouds for the dead. We have the sewing machine she used for that.

In 1987, my mother-in-law decided that it was time to have a reunion of as many of her parents' descendants as she could get together. She worked, and so did a lot of the rest of us, to send out invitations, make calls, and plan. She planned for the reunion to be on a Sunday, in the church mentioned above, Village Creek church in Oconee County, SC. The congregation vacated the church for the day for us. Since the Greens had lots of children (I knew seven of them, one still alive) and their children all had their own children (one had seven I have known), it's a large family.

My mother-in-law asked me, and several others, to speak. I did my best, I guess, pointing out some of the things the Bible said about families. We had a good time, and a lot to eat. Some of us camped or rented cabins in Oconee State Park, which is nearby. There was some singing, and some testimonies of what God had done for some of the family.

The reunion has been held every year since, with various people in charge, and various people speaking, singing, and the like. We have had a relative, not a direct descendant, who is a pastor, speak. We have had a granddaughter of the Greens report on a short-term mission trip to Russia. Various people have done various inspiring things.

The church is in an area with only one house nearby. There is a woods behind it, which may go for a mile or more. When our own kids were with us, I would take them, and whoever else wanted to go, on walks in the woods. One year, a young man, who had married into the family, went with me, taking a child or two of his own. He was a remarkable Christian, obviously transformed. In a few years, he was dead, of AIDS, which he had caught before his marriage, perhaps from a contaminated needle. I didn't attend his funeral, which was in another state, but we were told that it was a glorious celebration. Other attendees have passed on, too, including my parents-in-law. Two will be mentioned this year, having died since we last met.

Last year, one of my brother-in-laws agreed to be in charge for this year, and he asked if the group could meet on Saturday, rather than Sunday, as some of us didn't want to miss our own church services. So we are, this year, meeting today.

Anyone should ask themselves what sort of heritage they will leave for their children, even if they don't have any yet. Even those of us who will never have any ought to think about the heritage we are leaving younger relatives and colleagues. I don't know what, if anything, will be remembered of me some 40 or more years after I'm gone. Most of the people who will attend this year, even their descendants, never knew the Greens. Nonetheless, we honor their memory. I suppose they would be pleased. I hope, and believe, that God is pleased.

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