It’s a common expression to describe a highly involved, deeply committed church leader as a “pillar of the church.” Derived from an architectural feature, the idiom translates easily. A vertical column upholds the building; people called by God to special roles in the community of faith uphold the congregation’s witness as a supporter and stabilizing influence.
A pillar of the church can be a key leader for a long time or a person instrumental in navigating a particular season in the life of the church. A pillar of the church can be an elected officer with lots of visibility, or a quiet soul who just shows up and makes a difference here and there. A pillar of the church can be a generous giver of time, talent or treasure, or a servant of Christ with a particular passion, or a spiritual guide who joins others on their journey of faith. A pillar of the church can be a longtime member whose wisdom comes with years, or a youthful one who serves with abounding energy. Like one of the columns in our sanctuary, a pillar person stands on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
In his 73 years as a BMPC member and his 24 years of service as Clerk of Session, John M. “Jack” Moon fulfilled all those definitions of pillar of the church and more. When he took pen to paper recently and described himself briefly he said: “Ruling Elder, Clerk of Session Emeritus, ever present in matters large and small for 73 years. Led by his faith in Jesus Christ and with regard for all mankind, he served the church.” He considered his ministry as a lay leader of this congregation his primary calling.
When someone like Jack dies at 94 years old it is not uncommon to quip, “We will never see his likes again.” On the one hand, that is very true – there will never be another Jack Moon who sailed fast across the sea and sped to Vermont on his motorcycle listening to hymns, who sent his friends poems and delighted in long lists of interesting contrasts, who advocated for justice throughout his life in church and work, and who spent countless hours with individuals sharing his stories, his hilarity and his listening ear. Jack was one of a kind.
On the other hand, because of Jack Moon and lay leaders with his kind of depth and breadth of commitment there will be other church pillars. He mentored so many others who have significant roles in this church, to use his words, “in matters large and small.” I know them and you know them – members of this congregation so deeply invested in our being faithful in service to Jesus Christ that they uphold the church.
Jack shared with me a letter he wrote to his children in which he said, “The generations rise and pass away before the face of the Lord, and each generation contributes what it has to contribute, and gives place to the next.” Jack contributed so greatly in his generation that a new one arises, influenced by him and many other pillars, to continue serving the church. We honor all our forebears in faith by striving to be pillars ourselves. Thank God for Jack Moon, and thank God for so many of you who aspire to his kind of faith and witness.
A Memorial Service for Jack will be held in the Sanctuary on Saturday, July 25, at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow in Congregational Hall.