If you’re keeping up, you know that our church is celebrating its 150th anniversary — our sesquicentennial year. Try making that announcement on Sunday morning! Anyway, our committee is doing a wonderful job of inviting former pastors, musicians, and members, and gathering photos and other memorabilia for our 7-month long celebration. Among the artifacts, clippings, and records that we have found, several small ledger books stand out.
These bound ledger books were the journals of Reverend H. B. Hardaway, who was pastor of our church longer than anyone else — 29 years to be exact. Hardaway pastored the church out of the aftermath of the Great Depression, through World War II, and just past the Korean war in the early 1950s. He was beloved in the community and a little eccentric — he kept a pair of trained tufted titmouse birds (I am not making this up) — a novelty act he readily shared with his guests.
But “Brother” Hardaway did something else. He kept records of his ministry — detailed, meticulous records of when he preached, where he preached, how many people were there, what the weather conditions were, the sermon title and scripture, and other informative comments. In addition to that he kept records of whom he married, where and when he performed the ceremony, and how much he was paid by the happy couple. Some were happier that others because the going rate ranged from $0.50 to $3.00!
As the ledgers came to the end of each month, Brother Hardaway tallied the results — number of sermons preached, baptisms and weddings performed, funerals conducted, pastoral visits made, and persons converted. At the end of each year, he added up and recorded the total-to-date for each of those categories. I have never seen such detailed record-keeping in all my years of ministry.
Which got me to thinking — what are we leaving today? E-mails and attendance spreadsheets don’t have the same charm as these lovingly-written records of ministry. It also made me wish that I had kept journals. I’ve forgotten half the people I’ve married, and most of the sermons I’ve preached. I may need to start recording something of what I think is important in my own ministry. Maybe this blog is my way of wanting to be remembered, of wanting to be able to look at something and say, “My life made a difference.” What are you leaving as a record of your ministry?