Thank You! -- Dr. Bob Setzer, Jr.
Bambi and I were profoundly blessed by our last Sunday at the top of Poplar. The outpouring of love and affection was a radical, reckless gift of grace. We were humbled, moved, and transformed by the experience. Once again, we will never be the same because of you.
Since I have been saying my goodbyes for a good while now, along with facing the grief of leaving, I thought I could get through the service Sunday without breaking down. I was almost home free when during the final hymn, I looked out over that sea of faces and saw so many dear friends, some with tears in their eyes. A wave of emotion overcame me and tears coursed down my cheeks. Fortunately, a beloved brother seated near the front came forward to hug and steady me as I trembled and shook like a tree in a thunderstorm, the winds whipping it mercilessly to and fro.
Sunday's gift from the children, a book of original "Dr. Bob" art, is priceless. Council Chair Rodney Goff presented us with a Steve Mosely portrait of Bambi and me before the sanctuary’s rose window; that lovely work will always be a treasure. And the eloquently stated and beautifully framed "Citation of Appreciation," presented by Deacon Chair Susan Broome, will always command a prominent place in my home or study. All this was followed by a poignant parting at the door as folks left one last time with me as their pastor. We exchanged hugs and blessings, surely reminiscent of what the New Testament calls a "a holy kiss."
The reception from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. was lavish and lovely. The tables were laden with beautifully presented and exquisitely delicious hors d'oeuvres and sweets. The milling crowd, delighting in one another's company while waiting to greet us, was a moving sight. To be the guest of honor (along with the "First Lady") at such an event, so resplendent with class and kindness, was a blessing unlike any I ever received before.
The roasting and spoofing of Yours Truly by Julie Long, Bill McLees, and the makeshift Men's and Women's Choruses was sidesplittingly funny and artfully done. Daniel Hardeman’s video of FBCXers remembering their pastor was an instant classic, and the youth offering of a framed, vividly colorful work of art was a special gift. The thoughtful tributes offered by Kirby Godsey and Connie Jones touched us deeply. Then when Personnel Chair, Dan Riley, presented the Love Offering, Bambi and I were thunderstruck. Never have I held a check for such a large sum with my name on it! I am deeply grateful to all who gave so generously to provide us such an extravagant and memorable gift.
On Sunday, I was once more reminded: it is impossible to overestimate this congregation's love, joy, kindness, generosity, and all the other expressions of the "fruit of the Spirit" that mark a people who belong to Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23). For fifteen years, we were blessed to live and work beside and among you. You changed and shaped our lives for the better in countless ways. And for that, we will be in your debt for the rest of lives and throughout all eternity where we shall meet again. Then, once more, it will be Party Time!