Morning, Jan. 17, New York
Clara Jean Arnwine, Sam Dixon. Clinton Rabb. By Sunday, Jan. 17, all three are bound in death with an estimated 230,000 Haitians who perished in the earthquake.
The praise and thanksgiving from across the church for the safety of the mission workers in Haiti turns into a more somber period of reflection.
"Our grief is overwhelming," says West Ohio Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Afternoon, Jan. 20, Dallas
Days of mourning follow, as one funeral and memorial service after another raise up the lives of those who died on missions of mercy.
In Dallas, 10 of the 11 surviving members of the medical mission team to Haiti wear carnations in honor of Jean Arnwine's love of flowers at a service at Highland Park United Methodist Church.
More than 800 people pack the sanctuary, joining together to sing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" as the woman who could not wait to go to Haiti on a mission, who gathered more than 600 pairs of glasses for the poor there, is remembered as a symbol of love.
In Raleigh, N.C., Jan. 22, worshippers fill Edenton Street United Methodist church to celebrate the life of Dixon, the head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, who traveled the world serving others. Those paying tribute include the Mennonite Central Committee, the Vietnamese National Caucus and Methodist groups in Brazil, Bolivia, Latvia, Britain and Honduras.
"Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?" Dixon's friend, the Rev. William Simpson, says in a eulogy referring to 2 Samuel 3:38.
In the last of the funerals, on Jan. 23 in Austin, Texas, Bishop Juan Albert Cardona presents a plaque to Suzanne Rabb in honor of her husband, Clinton. The Methodist Church of Colombia, he says, pays homage to this man who loved all people.
"No one," Cardona says, "has love as big as those who give their life for their friends."
In a spirited part of the service, worshippers sing "Peace Like a River," the song Dixon, Rabb and the others trapped in the Hotel Montana sang to give themselves peace.
More hands begin clapping with each verse until the congregation seems to become one in voice and movement as celebrants proclaim:
"I got love like an ocean.
I got love like an ocean.
I got love like an ocean,
In my soul."
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