Thursday, January 7, 2016

Remembering Lee M Belknap

Yesterday Judy and I went to say farewell to a dear friend.  Lee M. Belknap was Judy's minister of music growing up at First Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana.  He was also my colleague when I served that church as associate pastor in the years 1982 through 1987.  We both have so many dear memories of this good man and faithful servant of the Lord.  It was a tender and special day yesterday.

The memorial service was held in Lake Wales, so we drove down in the morning, and arrived with some time to catch our breath before going into the church for worship.  As one might expect, the Sanctuary was still adorned for the Christmas season, with two trees in the Chancel filled with white Chrismon ornaments, made out of satin, like small pillows, and very attractive.  Atop each of the trees was a descending dove, made of pearl beads.

The family were gathered together in the front row.  At one point in the worship service both of Lee's children spoke, Cherry and Kurt.  Judy grew up with them both, sharing junior choir, Sunday School and Camp Redbud memories that go way back.  They both spoke eloquently about their father and their mother Marie as well, who entered the Church Triumphant 14 years ago.  We sang a number of hymns as you would guess, since we were honoring a man who spent his life leading choirs and bell choirs, and teaching vocal and instrumental music.  The organist also played some favorite hymns and selections of Lee's, including Handel's Largo.

We were last in the receiving line, and so missed the chance to visit with the only other representatives of First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, who must have been at the very front, and scooted out before we could catch their eye.  But we did have a chance to visit with Kurt and Cherry and their families, and they talked about Marie and Judy's mom, Dottie, teaching Sunday School when they were very young, as well as about Lee and choir.  At one point the two of them plus Judy sang a rousing rendition of a song called "Announcements!" that Lee had taught them, back in Indiana.  I wish I had had my camera ready for a video of that!

Lee and I had many a great conversation over they years, and thoroughly enjoyed working together.  In retirement, he loved being part of a church that offered great music in praising God.  As we drove back home we reflected on many moments from those days, as well as from yesterday, and felt so blessed and thankful to have shared a part of the journey with Lee, Marie and their family.

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