Leave it to my mom. She’s one of the most creative and thoughtful people I’ve ever known – always coming up with some unique and special way to celebrate someone’s birthday, confirmation, wedding, etc. This time, however, she really out-did herself! Her anniversary brainstorm was, quite literally, inspired.
My parents, Don and Judy Trevillian, were married on June 8, 1963. In January of 2013, the year of their 50th wedding anniversary, the sometime-snowbirds were sitting in a little chapel near Sarasota, Florida. Light streamed through a window near the altar, and it took my mom right back to her Confirmation day in 1957 at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Detroit. That day had been a cloudy, drizzly kind of day until, just as Pastor Jehn gave the Benediction, the sun came out, and a ray of beautiful sunshine streaked through a stained-glass window right near the altar. She has never forgotten that! So, while sitting in Florida and remembering this, an idea was born. She decided that, to mark the 50th year of their marriage, it would be fitting to visit 50 different churches to worship and thank God for His many years of blessings. My father couldn’t have agreed more, and so began a year of unexpected joy and surprises! They were successful in their endeavor, and the scrapbook my mom made of their experiences has already become a family heirloom. While each visit was special and unique, some stand out as particularly memorable.
In February, they visited Immanuel in Palm Coast, Florida. Rev. Thomas D. Hartley greeted them at the door and learned of their plans. As it turned out, Immanuel was having a special marriage celebration Sunday. Pastor Hartley shared their story during his sermon, and afterward, the entire congregation blew bubbles, like people often do after weddings, right there in the sanctuary!
A few days later, on Ash Wednesday, they visited Trinity in Pembroke Pines, Florida. There, Rev. Keith A. Spencer, who happens to be blind, so impressed my parents with his ability to lead this small congregation. In her scrapbook, mom writes that he is “a very welcoming and loving, kind servant to the poor and hurting people in his community.”
In March, they visited Trinity in Holly Hill, Florida. It was a beautiful old church with an enormous organ that filled the whole back wall. Unfortunately, the organ hadn’t been used during that service. After commenting on its size and stating how they wished they had heard it, an elderly woman, who was a concert pianist and former church organist, gave them a “spectacular” private concert! It also happened to be “Bike Week” in nearby Daytona, so their picture, taken by the church sign, has motorcycles going across the screen.
Back to Michigan
In March, they came back to Michigan, just in time to celebrate Easter with our whole family at their home church – Faith in Grand Blanc. Several family members, and many of my parents’ friends, were able to go with them to different churches throughout the year to help them celebrate. This was just our first opportunity.
In June, my parents headed to the Upper Peninsula, where both of their families had lived generations before. They both felt this was truly special, knowing they were able to sit in the very sanctuaries their own families had worshiped in so many decades ago!
In July, they visited St. Paul – Millington. After the Saturday evening service, they were surprised by a man who offered to take their picture. He had been a strolling musician and accordion player in Frankenmuth, and he began singing a beautiful anniversary song to them that brought tears to their eyes. The tears quickly turned to smiles when he began yodeling another song for them. What a special gift!
In August, they had a wonderful surprise at Our Savior, Flint. The surrounding neighborhood had several abandoned and boarded-up buildings. At first glance, it appeared that the church was empty as well. However, when they got around to the back of the building, there was a parking lot full of cars! This inner-city church is doing a wonderful job of meeting the needs of its long-time members and the newer members from the surrounding community. It was very welcoming.
In September, we had the joy of celebrating another 50th anniversary, as Concordia University Ann Arbor also reached that milestone. It was especially meaningful as my husband, Paul, and I both graduated from Concordia, and our daughter, Allison, was a student and choir member there at the time. Paul and I were especially proud to be Cardinals on that day!
End of the Journey
Sunday, December 29th, marked the end of their journey. They returned to Resurrection, Detroit, the congregation my mom was confirmed in all those years ago. The stained-glass window she so clearly remembers is still right there by the altar. The old Lutheran High School – East building is just across the street. Two of my mom’s best friends from her Lutheran East days, Joanie (Lindquist) Tocco and Peggy (Trautmann) Schley, along with their husbands, joined my parents on this Sunday. Rev. Scott E. Benjamin had been told they were coming, and he surprised them by inviting their former principal, Dr. Herb Moldenhauer, to come! Dr. Moldenhauer, at ninety years old, regaled them with his sharp memory and delightful stories. He and his now-sainted wife, Elsie, were celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary!
In her scrapbook, there is a photo of them in front of each church’s sign, and a church bulletin from the service. It has been great fun flipping through, enjoying their experiences with them. My mom summarizes their amazing adventure this way:
“What a great journey it’s been. We’ve met so many warm and welcoming Christians. Our faith has truly been affirmed by the people and pastors we’ve met along the way. They are joyfully doing God’s work in their corner of the world. Our Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod is so much bigger than our individual home congregations!”
All along the way, they had the opportunity to inspire and to be inspired by the many ways God’s people are sharing Christ’s love with each other and their communities. Perhaps, like me, you will be inspired as well!