This week, I want to take a break from our usual church building and design topics, to focus on someone who made a significant difference in my life and many, many others.
My Grandma McKnight lived a life serving the church. The first week of this January, she went home to be with her Savior.
Sadly, over the last seven years, dementia robbed my grandmother of the ability to recognize any of our family. Yet even though our faces were not familiar, she never lost sight of her God. Many residents in her nursing home told of how my grandmother prayed for them, and that no matter where she was in the home, she was always at church.
Grandma spent 65 years of her life being a pastor’s wife, a church board member, the missionary president of the local church and a greeter coordinator. She affected many people personally during these years of serving the church and I spoke with many of them as they came to pay their last respects. As the head greeter for more than 20 years, she was the first person people saw each week, and so many at her service made the effort to let us know how welcome she had always made them feel.
When I was in grade school Grandma would come to my Sunday School class once a month and tell missionary stories to the kids. Every story would captivate us and hold our attention. I recall hanging on every word she spoke, waiting to find out what would happen to the missionary. I still remember some of those stories, but most of all, I remember it was the only time I behaved in Sunday School!
While her Sunday work has always impacted me, I didn’t realize how many other people it touched. At one of her viewings, a fellow church member, who is about 15 years younger than me, spoke of his memories of the missionary stories Grandma would tell once a month in Sunday School. Hearing this, it really hit home how much she had impacted multiple generations of kids with her stories.
But Grandma touched others too. During the funeral, my father shared his memories of his mom. He spoke of when he was young, how she would create state of the art flannel graphs to aid her storytelling in Sunday School. This dedicated woman had spent a lifetime serving the church and impacting generations of children with her stories.
It’s no wonder that my father, with a foundation from a mom like that, grew up to also serve the church. It was Grandma who had encouraged my father to follow God’s calling to become an architect. It was Grandma, serving on her local church board, who had asked Dad to draw a set of architectural plans for the young church in Grove City, OH. And it was those plans that led to Dad answering the call to move to Grove City and start a company that specialized in building churches.
Grandma’s values were reflected by my parents too, who themselves have served in missions, church, districts, and college boards along with organizing and participating in children, youth and many other activities in the church. They, in turn, taught me through example, how to serve in and through the local church. My wife and I have tried to follow a similar path, serving our church in many ways, and passing these values to our children. I pray that they have learned from the three generations before them, the importance of serving in the church.
It was my grandmother’s (and grandfather’s) dedication to church and the Lord that started it all. It has led both to my family’s foundation of service to our local church, and to all the churches we serve through The McKnight Group. Understanding how the local church touches and changes people’s lives is literally part of our DNA at The McKnight Group. Thank you, Grandma (and Grandpa)! Without your influence, there would be no McKnight Group to help thousands of churches and touch so many lives over the last 44 years. Yet, all you did to start it all, was serve!