They came from many cities around the country. There was a friend from Champaign, IL and several surprise guests from Dallas,TX. Members from the church I pastored in Pittsburgh, PA in the 1980s were there.
A private plane came in, bearing three, from Maryland. My mother was in from New York City. My beloved son flew in from College Station, TX. An uncle and aunt drove to Atlanta from Fort Myers, FL. Two aunts from Maryland and Cleveland flew in.
The occasion? A gala weekend celebrating my installation as the fourth pastor of the Crossroads Presbyterian Church of Stone Mountain, GA.
A few months ago, I was not desirous of an installation ceremony. I have been in this post since the first Sunday in January and I thought an installation service nine months after I began was a bit anticlimactic. Normally, such an event is held within 60-90 days of a new pastor’s arrival. However, the more the leadership talked about how significant such a celebration could be, the more excited I became.
Diligent planning began a couple of months ago and on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 11:00 a.m., I was officially installed. Bishop Joseph Clemmons, pastor of the Historic First Church of God in Christ, in Brooklyn, NY preached the installation sermon from Romans 10. He, at 85 years old, is as sharp and passionate and thought-provoking as he was when I met him in 1971.
The next day, we had a “Come meet our new pastor” emphasis in our morning worship service. We had MANY visitors. The ladies of our church prepared lavish receptions on both Saturday and Sunday. There was a tent erected in our courtyard. There was a magnificent organ on loan, which enhanced our musical experience. Throughout the building there were decorated tables, fresh flowers, plenteous food, laughter and delight.
It was like being at my own funeral and being able to hear the tributes.
Indeed, a most unforgettable weekend.
Richard Allen Farmer