Pastor Darneather Murph-Heath preached her last sermons at the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake this weekend.
Coming from Gorham United Methodist Church in Chicago, she served in Crystal Lake for the last six years as Associate Pastor.
The Bishop assigned her to be the Pastor at Our Saviors United Methodist Church in Schaumburg started July 1st.
Her daughter Tamera graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School this year, so there was some logic in the timing, but from the turnout at the usually sparsely-attended Saturday 5 PM service held prior to a going away potluck dinner, Pastor Heath made quit an impact on Crystal Lake.
It was an emotional time, especially when she managed to get staid mainly white suburban Methodists to dance in the aisles, something she and her predecessor Ronnie Verboom had been trying to do for at least a decade.
Senior Pastor Steve Bullmer observed that those in the sanctuary had witnessed “a miracle.”
Pastor Health had transferred dancing at Northern Illinois University parties to dancing for the Lord.
She had brought the enthusiasm of the black Methodist congregations, as epitomized locally by performances of the Gospel Choir of the Gorham church to Crystal Lake…at least for her final service.
“I feel in love with suburban living,” Pastor Heath revealed.
“Who knew?” she said telling of the trepidation she faced when the Bishop sent her to Crystal Lake.
“People (in Chicago) were saying, ‘what are you going? Where is Crystal Lake?
“I came here kicking and screaming because I wanted to stay in Chicago…and it’s not for the reason you think. (I thought) my work wasn’t finished at Gorham.
“I’m amazed that a little child from the South Side of Chicago has something to say (that suburbanites would want to hear).
“The first day I arrived I felt like I was welcomed.”
“Even after (what I considered) a bad sermon, someone would come up and say, ‘You did it again.'”
“I think to God be the glory.”
Pastor Heath told of visiting family in Mississippi and the painful good-byes. They had been lightened by her grandmother’s making tea cakes for everyone to eat on the way home. (She even gave the recipe, but I couldn’t keep up. If you want it, ask for it in a comment and I’ll track it down and post it.)
“I wanted to stay (in Crystal Lake) because ministry was happening.
“It’s so hard to say ‘Good-bye’ to yesterday.
She quoted Paul’s parting words in Philippians, saying, “You have shaped me into a better persona, pastor and (I missed the last word). You all have made living life easier.
She also cited 2nd Corinthians.
“I love each of you and there is nothing you can do about it,” she told the congregation, echoing her frequently used description of God’s love for all humankind.
The Methodist Church has a rule prohibiting the return of former pastors of a church. (That didn’t stop FUMC of Crystal Lake David Seyller and his wife Bonnie, who still have been unable to sell their Crystal Lake home for a planned retirement in Kenosha, from coming to the celebration.)
“The Bishop cannot regulate my love and my prayers.
“If I see you in a Crystal Lake restaurant, he cannot regulate against your getting another hug from me.”
The service ended with Pastor Heath’s favorite song, “Blessed Be Your Name.”
Schaumburg parishioners should prepare for Pastor Health’s to say the following:
- “Hello, somebody.
- “Can I get an ‘Amen.’
- “Church,” when she wants your attention.
And dancing in the aisles will be encouraged.
Here is a 2008 recording of The Newsboys’ “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”: