Friday, January 07, 2011

Mama Nell and the Local Church

I went home today - as in Reynolds, Georgia home.

Sometimes I have the opportunity to attend funerals of folks I have known all my life. Many times it is impossible because of my travel or other commitments. Today was a possibility. And like a magnet, I was drawn to the 11AM funeral service of Mrs. Nell Wainwright held at the Reynolds United Methodist Church.

To be sure, I have attended a ton of funerals at the Reynolds Methodist Church. In fact I grew up in that church and I attended a ton of other services there. I haven’t been there in a while and I can tell you when I walked in this morning, I was almost stunned by its beauty. And I was flooded with memories.

I was also listening to every word said today celebrating the life of a very dear lady who was loved by..... everyone.

Mama Nell was the matriarch of a very prominent farming family in Reynolds. Her husband, Walter, started from humble beginnings and made something of himself. As my lifelong friend Chuck Byrd said so well today in the eulogy, his success was because of two words.

Hard work.

Walter and Mama Nell raised children - who raised more children - who made something of themselves. And they utilized those same two words in doing it.

Hard work.

Not only did the Wainwrights make something of themselves, but their peach operation had (and still has) a huge financial impact on the county. As I was reminded today, I can remember many a day when I was a kid, peach workers paying for their groceries at our store with dimes.. or quarters.. or whatever the workers were paid for picking a basket of peaches at the time.

So not only did they make a living for themselves, the Wainwrights also contributed in a big way to other folks, including my family, making a living in our community.

But as the Wainwright children (and later the grandchildren) were doing great stuff like “working hard” and having great impact on our county, Mama Nell was the equalizer.

She was the glue that held the entire enterprise together. I have a feeling her prayers over the years for her family had as much to do with their success as those two words on which they built their business.

The minister today spoke of Mama Nell’s love for the church and specifically, the Reynolds United Methodist Church.

He went on to talk about the importance of the local church in a community. And the importance of supporting it - as Mama Nell did.

It hit me that just as Mama Nell was to her family, the local church is the equalizer in a community. It is a place that allows us the opportunity to take our focus off our selves and our pursuit of temporal success to focus on the really important stuff.

I couldn’t help but wonder today what the little town of Reynolds would have been like if those two churches that sit in the park never had folks like Mama Nell's consistent support and were never in business and never in a position to influence the community.

And I am quite certain the Wainwright family has wondered where they would be if not for the influence of Mama Nell.

1 comment:

Marcia Shepard said...

I agree with you, Bruce. Mama Nell was a wonderful person and will surely be missed. I always looked forward to seeing her whenever I would go to visit my Mama at Jamestown. She always had a smile and always told me she loved me. Only wish I had had the opportunity to know her in my earlier years. Thanks for a reminder of how these people and the churches that we have grown up in have influenced our lives.