Ministry comes in a variety of forms.
Followers of Jesus do not all look alike nor do we all do identical work.
Pillars of the Church come in many different shapes.
On December 12, 2012, Cynthia Bolbach died. A former moderator of our General Assembly, Cindy was well-known and loved by many across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
On December 17, 2012, Teddy Mapes died. The sexton at West-Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Teddy was known and well-loved by the West-Park community and by many in the neighborhood of Amsterdam and W. 86th Street.
A gentle bear of a man with a heart overflowing with compassion, Teddy came to West-Park a little over a year ago as the congregation connected with the Occupy movement. He quickly fit into the community. He took part in Bible study and worship and became a member.
Teddy cared for the physical building of the church. More importantly, he cared for the spiritual building – the community – the Body of Christ. He helped negotiate the creative chaos that the Spirit so often stirs at West-Park. Teddy became one of the public faces of the church.
I had only met Teddy a couple of times – but in those brief encounters, I could tell the significant role he played in the community. So today, I walked to West-Park to talk to my friend Bob Brashear, pastor of the church, about Teddy. Teddy’s biggest contribution, his most profound ministry, Bob noted took place “on the steps, in the streets, with the people.”
On the steps. In the streets. With the people. What a ministry, what a legacy.
Teddy’s death has ripped a hole in the West-Park Presbyterian Church community. I cannot imagine how painful the tear is – nor how challenging their ride through the ragged reality of grief will be – nor how long the rebuilding process will take.
But this I know: God who loved Teddy Mapes in this life continues to love Teddy Mapes and has welcomed him home. I give thanks for Teddy’s life and love and witness and faith.
And this I know: it will take time, it will be challenging, there will be tears, there will be fits and starts – but somehow, some way, some day, “every little thing gonna be all right” for the people of West-Park Presbyterian Church. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
See you along the Trail.