I’ve often written in this space about how special working for the Moravian Church can be. Whether in joy or sorrow (or sometimes just on “regular” days), I continue to be heartened by the concern, caring and connectedness of my Moravian brothers and sisters.
Four days before Christmas, my sister texted with a serious concern about my mother. Something had occurred overnight that was causing Mom to fade quickly. We had seen times like this before—my mother had been declining for years—but I could sense by the tone of my sister’s messages that this was different. She called soon after and suggested I get ready to come see them; I knew this was one of those “drop everything, it’s time to go” moments.
I called my wife to let her know what was happening, then shared the news with my staff and began to get my things together. Before I could finish packing my book bag, Northern Province President Betsy Miller called the Church Center staff together in the shipping room. They expressed concern and laying hands on me, prayed for my mother, my family and me.
Within a few more minutes, I received the first messages of comfort and prayers from church friends and pastors. Then, just before I left the office, my sister called back to tell me that my mom was gone. I knew then it was going to be a long drive across Pennsylvania.
By noon that day, a message went out through the Northern Province e-mail chain about what had happened. On the long drive on I-80, I got a call from my pastor; calls and texts soon followed from other church friends and IBOC members. When I stopped for gas, I found my e-mail was filling with prayers and sympathies. The outpouring of concern and prayers sped me on my way and made the long trip a little easier.
I wasn’t able to bring myself to post a Facebook message until the next day. Even though I’d already penned an obituary, I wanted to make sure I found just the right words and photos to celebrate Mom. But when I finally posted it, I was bowled over by the response; within a few hours, many more friends and family had shared condolences. Then, within a few days, sympathy cards began to arrive with more messages of comfort and hope.
Through all of these different channels, I heard from nearly a quarter of the pastorate and staff of the Moravian Church in America, along with many friends new and old. It convinced me once again that my job with the IBOC has benefits that go beyond the typical workplace plans. It was so comforting to my family and me to be this connected and to receive so many heartfelt wishes and prayers. My family and I want to thank all of those who reached out in this difficult time.
Mike Riess, Editor
From the January/February 2017 Moravian Magazine