WARRENSBURG - It seemed like old times at Warrensburg Free Methodist Church on the morning of Dec. 5.
Recently retired Pastor Richard Leonard was in the church narthex greeting people, hugging, and smiling. His wife Ruth was at the organ waiting to play a prelude accompanied with two flautists, Sheila Mender and Diane Duell - plus Pearl Taylor at the piano. I felt this must be a few weeks earlier, not today!
Song Leader John Kindred led the service, until it was time for the morning's guest speaker, Rev. Randy Phillips of Oneida, NY - Richard and Ruth's son-in-law.
Phillips conveyed anecdotes and thoughts about the Leonards and their remarkable character.
Phillips offered a prayer thanking God, for the service of the Leonards and the foundation the Leonards built for the church through their years of leadership in Warrensburg. Following the service, Cliff Gates presented a plaque to the Leonards on behalf of the congregation, expressing thanks for their dedication, and the love and caring spirit towards the mission and members of the Warrensburg Free Methodist Church. In doing so, Phillips quoted First Corinthians: "Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is love."
Richard and Ruth Leonard were also given a card containing donations collected from the church family. Also, it was announced that an engraved stone memorial will be created and set on the church lawn in recognition of the Leonards' years of service and dedication.
Richard Leonard then called retired Associate Pastor Tom Bogoshian to come forward.
Bogoshian, loved also by the congregation, said: "We have a loving church - Continue to manifest this love, and we can thank the Lord for the leadership in this church instilling its growth in many ways."
Richard Leonard, known to be quick with his wit, offered a comment with a grin.
"I told him what to say," he said. Then with a serious expression, he added, "This is a bittersweet moment for Ruth and me - we feel for you, pray for you."
He promised to return occasionally and preach. Then he pulled out a card and read its contents.
"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away; old lawyers never die, they just lie; old preachers never die, they just run out of steam."
Dinner prepared by parishioners followed in the church's Fellowship Hall, and a good time was enjoyed by those attending, about 120 people. We'll always be thankful that the Leonards for being such a vital part of the Warrensburg Free Methodist Church.