I have resisted writing this post for over three weeks to allow time to pass and some healing to occur. However, even though I am no longer the pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church, I feel compelled to jot a brief post on Rich Norvell to this blog.
Rich entered eternity unexpectedly on February 24th as he was preparing to leave home for church. Although he was eighty years of age, both his appearance and his energy betrayed this fact. He was a charter member of Bethesda Baptist Church and the most familiar face among the congregation.
Rich served on the pastor search committee that recommended me to the church body as their pastor in 2009. He was the chairman of the deacons during my entire seven-year stay. And, of course, he led all efforts in building repairs, often handling those repairs himself. How many times did that gracious man answer security alarms even in the middle of the night?!
When I would step into the pulpit, I would see Rich sitting in his seat on the back row just to the right of the aisle. He would usher every Sunday he was present, assisting in the collection of the offering. And, in seven years, he always gave me an encouraging word even after a sermon I had preached which I considered to be a "flop".
What I remember most about Rich is his smile. I do not recall him ever losing his temper even once during my tenure as pastor. He may not agree with me on some matter but he always kept a very pleasant demeanor. It was a joy to serve our Lord together! I consider him as a brother in Christ and a friend.
His family composed one of the nicest obituary notices I have ever read and I believed it truly captured Rich from the perspective of his family. He did love the church, but he loved his family even more.
Rich will be greatly missed by family, friends, Bethesda Baptist, and me.