Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I found out today that Ron died last Friday. When I was pastor at the Vidalia Church, Ron Southerland was the priest at the local Episcopal Church. During this ten year pastorate, a small group of us met weekly at the Episcopal Church to talk about preaching, but mostly to share our lives together. The group changed from year to year as some left and others came, but Ron was always there. For almost 20 years he served the people of this community of faith. He left an imprint on them and upon those of us who weekly drank his coffee, laughed at his humor, and left thinking about what he had shared with us.
Though we were equals around the table, we all knew Ron was our mentor. He was our leader. He was an earthy kind of guy who had fought some battles. He won some and lost some and was always willing to talk to us honestly about both. Ron shared more than theology and preaching and jokes. He shared with us how to be real. He modeled it for us. My favorite "Ron quote" is, "Just remember there is a God, and she ain't you." He had a unique way of jarring us, making us think, and keeping us from taking ourselves too seriously.
Since my departure from Vidalia, I have missed Ron. And while I am grateful he has come fully into the presence of the Christ he lifted up, I shall still miss him. There is no other option. He allowed me to become a part of his life and he has been and shall always be a part of mine.