The summer before my firstborn daughter, Ashley, was to enter her senior year of homeschooling, my husband picked her up at Florida College camp and gave her permission to start college in Florida. Classes there were starting in two weeks, and the college was over 3,000 miles away. It was a loss I grieved with some weeping and gnashing of teeth, though I never told her so that I would not rain on her parade.
She said she wasn’t going to get her “MRS Degree”, so I told her, “Okay, but if you decide to ‘look around’, look for him in the college library”. The night that Ashley met Brian, he was hanging out around the volleyball court circling a picnic table on all fours like an ape. He wasn’t what we expected, but in the end, he was as studious as any boy in the library, earning a degree in agriculture and a certificate in aquarium science after they were married. The certificate helped him land a great job in a research lab at Harvard Medical, breeding and sustaining aquatic animals for research. This job in Boston was near where Brian had grown up in Rhode Island, so they were able to live near not only Brian’s parents, but his siblings and their children and to worship with them in Lincoln, Rhode Island at the Greater Providence church of Christ.
The first time I visited this congregation was when we went there for their little wedding in August of 2002. About once each year, I would fly to Boston for a couple of weeks to visit Ashley and Brian and would worship with them, both during the years they attended a congregation in downtown Boston and the years they attended the Greater Providence church of Christ where they worshiped in a building owned by the Blackstone Historical Society. This congregation has always held strong to the New Testament patterns in all they do, and like sturdy New Englanders, have raised a lot of wonderful children in their congregation, weathered a lot of storms together, and have worked hard to strive for unity.
One of the most consistent sources of good influence that I’ve witnessed in this congregation is a faithful couple, Haven & Carol Starr who have worshiped with this congregation for decades. You know the type: Consistent. Loyal. Sacrificial. Stable. Sincere. Trustworthy. “Salt of the earth.” These “givers” invited us to a delicious lunch at 99 Restaurant where we had the opportunity to express our deep gratitude to them for being such a stabilizing factor in the congregation throughout all these years. In fact, during the time of our visit, they had volunteered to take on the mind-boggling assignment of charting the seating arrangements at every service to comply with their state’s pandemic conditions to legally meet together, and to accommodate the preferences of each worshiper. When Brian’s grandmother died, Haven and Carol sent a fruit bouquet where the family was gathered to mourn. When Brian went late one night to the ER for chest pain, they came over so Haven could take Brian to the hospital and Carol could stay with Ashley for moral support. “Carol is the woman everyone ugly cries to” Ashley told me. And when Carol has the ladies over for Bible classes on important topics, she serves Dunkin’ Donuts coffee just the way everyone likes it and provides enough blankets for each woman to wrap themselves up in to stay cozy. From the day they all worked together to help create a wonderful wedding reception for Ashley and Brian, they have always been present at every crisis, just like family. Do you know how comforting that is when you live 3000 miles away, that a church family is loving your children and grandchildren the way you wish you could be present to love them? Priceless.
Lincoln church of Christ
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865