The day I became pastor for Ridgecrest was victorious and surreal. We walked out of the auditorium, put Morgan in her car seat, got into the car, looked at one another speechless, and drove away. Shannon had conveniently slipped Lynard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama” into the CD player. For a few minutes we jammed. For the next 2 or 3 hours we drove in silence. We didn’t have a destination or any real clue where we were in Birmingham, we just drove. We drove circuitously, realizing there was only one place on the map we didn’t want to go. We didn’t want to go home.
Home at the time was Crossville, TN. We lived there 6 years. I had an aunt and an uncle in the church by blood, several grandmas by adoption, many friends, scores of people I had baptized, and Morgan had her own personal nanny named Sherry. We had to tell all of these people we were leaving. Crossville and LRBC would no longer be home. Three weeks later we were gone. That night we were standing in the doorway of our new house and Morgan declared that she wanted to do the one thing in the world we couldn’t, go back.
For a pastor, changing churches is like transplanting oaks. Technically it can be done, but the roots go so deep that not all of them can be extracted, and no one knows if the thing will find new life in foreign soil. Will it grow? Leaving a church rips at the soul. Beginning again at a new one is unnerving. Will these people accept me? Will they love my family? Will any of them be a friend? How long will this last? If it doesn’t work, where will we go?
Morgan is now 10 and there is another one, a Kiley one, a Birmigham born one who is 6. We tell Morgan often of Crossville, but sadly she doesn’t remember any of it. Birmingham is home. The only church my daughters really know is Ridgecrest. The roots are deep within the soil. There are friends. I still miss my uncle Roy and aunt Geneva (and the fishing). Morgan doesn’t know it, but she misses Sherry. And oh yes, I have plenty more adoptive grandmas.
Alabama is a sweet home in a way that can only be adequately expressed by a southern rock band. You have loved my family and allowed me to grow. For you, RBC, I am deeply appreciative.