Monday, May 20, 2013

Rev Sally McClain Retires

Those of you who have been long time readers of TransGriot know that the blog not only started in Louisville, but through May 2010 chronicled some of my Bluegrass State life as a Texan in exile.

One of the people that I talked about in various blog posts who was a big part of my Louisville life and  my evolving faith journey was my pastor at Edenside Christian Church, the Rev. Sally McClain.  

I first met her approximately 48 hours after arriving in Louisville in late September 2001.  I was still reeling emotionally and depressed about my move from Houston, the series of seismic level events in my life starting that February which precipitated my relocation.  I was also spending a lot of my time in my new locale pondering my future and my 40th birthday that was a mere 8 months away.  

Dawn had me hop in her car and took me to meet the pastor of her church and at the time I didn't know anybody yet in Da Ville besides the Fairness peeps, my housemates, and my new next door neighbors.

South Park Cartman Talking Plush
When I walked into Sally's office, it did wonders for my mood that day.   You gotta love a pastor that has a stuffed Cartman doll on her bookshelf and who Dawn nicknamed 'Mustang Sally' because at the time she took over the leadership of Edenside she was driving a Ford Mustang.  

A few days later after visiting her Edenside office the Louisville AIDS Walk happened, and I joined the Edenside crew as we walked from the Belvedere starting point in downtown Louisville across the Clark Bridge to Indiana and back.  

I had so much fun that day with the folks there I started attending Sunday services at Edenside since the Highlands neighborhood in Da Ville that surrounded the church reminded me a lot of Montrose.

Edenside eventually grew on me until I joined the church a few months later in 2002.  You have to love a church like Edenside that in addition to being actively involved in the Highlands neighborhood and the Louisville community, hosted art shows in its building, hosted a concert by one of our members who was a jazz vocalist, had an HIV/AIDS memorial service and has the Louisville Scottish Association Bagpipe band pop in from time to time.

And oh yeah, did I forget to mention a certain DJ spinning Christmas tunes with soul as part of our church's contribution to the Bardstown Road Aglow event the first Saturday in December that kicks off the holiday season in the Highlands? 

She also led by example.  She's on the advisory board for the WHAS-TV Crusade For Children, one of the major charity fundraising events in the area.  Before I left for Texas she'd become a regular panelist on WHAS-TV's The Moral Side Of The News. 

As the Cartman doll on her bottom bookshelf demonstrated, Rev. Sally also has a wicked sense of humor she''d unleash at times. As a proud UK alum during basketball season no Louisville and Indiana fan in our congregation was safe whenever they lost their annual games to the Cats.

I loved the fact she could say in a 20-30 minute sermon what it would take most Black minsters 45 minutes to an hour to dramatically pontificate on.  I also loved the fact my Louisville church later officially became an open and affirming one.

I also loved the fact Edenside services started at 10:40 AM, included weekly communion and we were done by 11:45 AM.  Most times I was back home by noon unless we were having a post service church dinner or event.  

Yesterday the retirement service was held for Rev. Sally at Edenside.  We tried to arrange it so I could come to Louisville and 'sliiiiide into Edenside' for this event as a surprise for her but it didn't work out. 

Then again, the news of me being back in Jefferson County wouldn't have stayed a surprise long either.

With all the stuff I been juggling lately I didn't think about simply writing a statement about what my time at Edenside meant to me that pretty much coincided with Sally's tenure at the church for Dawn to read until it was way too late to do so.. 

She not only helped me start to get over being depressed about being there but helped me get acclimated to life in Kentuckiana as a member of Edenside.   I got the chance to find my speaking voice again as a worship leader and meet some new people who became my friends during the what turned out to be eight years I lived there.  Her sermons got me thinking about a lot of social justice issues that fueled my activism while I was there and sometimes fueled my social justice during my Texan in exile days.

And it was a two way street.  I was the DJ for her son Derek's wedding.  I also gave her the advice after she asked my opinion about her first Moral Side of The News telecast to be fearless in making her points.  As the only female panelist on the show at the time, the boys ganged up on her during her first appearance.    

Just as things changed and time moved on after I left Houston, the same is true for my 105 year old church.   Some of the members I met when I arrived in 2001 and later joined the church have either moved on, moved out of state like I did or are not in this plane of existence.  Edenside's building is unfortunately for sale as well and Sally is retiring.

But the 1000 miles between me and Edenside didn't keep her from checking on me from time to time or sending me her and the Edenside family's condolences when my father was gravely ill last March and eventually passed away.

Congratulations on your retirement, you've earned it.  While I'm sure the Edenside church family will miss you doing those weekly thought provoking sermons, spending quality time with the grandkids and getting to travel for stuff other than church related events will be a bonus.
And I'll not only stay in touch, but give you at least 48 hours warning the next time I'm headed to the Louisville area.

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