As I prepare to wrap up here today, I thought I’d send a quick note out. The church I serve, Haygood Memorial United Methodist, lost a dear person, the Rev. Dr. Sheila Bookout. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Sheila well. Our paths did not cross a whole lot in churches, but her passion and love for God’s church at Haygood is evident.
Dr. Bookout served as the senior pastor of Haygood from 2011-2016. Sheila suffered from chronic health issues beyond her control. This past week she died at an early age from those issues. I honor her today for the many sacrifices she made for this church. We have a newly renovated fellowship hall, office suite and outdoor plaza. Years ago, the downstairs facilities had become filled with mold. Apparently, it was not an inviting place.
She preached to the church that if they wanted a future, they needed to make a choice to raise the money to renovate. This big-hearted church responded to her leadership. Todd Stanton, a Haygood member, ran the campaign. He shared with me that Sheila approached him about running the fundraising efforts for the renovation. Todd responded, “Sheila, I’m not sure I can make that sort of commitment.” Sheila quipped, “I gave a kidney. What’s your excuse?” Sheila gave a lot to this church, in body and spirit. In the renovation process she even made sure to put in televisions with access to Netflix which has saved me on many Sunday mornings when I have the kids here before service.
It’s often said that we all drink from wells we did not dig. That’s certainly the case here. She dug a lot of wells. A more Biblical way to look at it is from I Corinthians 3:6 in which Paul writes about the way God worked through him and another minister named Apollos. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Sheila did a lot of planting and we’re seeing God growing and doing some new things. I think it would have pleased her that on Wednesday, at our summer church picnic, we had more than a hundred kids and adults eating together outside on the plaza she dreamed about long ago.
As for my part, I’ll keep watering and planting on my seeds for this wonderful church. May God give the growth.