>Many who read this blog know something about Reconciliation UMC where I pastor. For those who don’t, you may read here about how we got started. In 1997, I was appointed with Rev. Larry Johnson to help found this new multiracial, multicultural congregation in Durham, NC. Since that time, Larry has moved on to become the Director of Multicultural and Social Ministries for the NC Annual Conference – though we keep him close for work and ministry at RUMC when he is not traveling!

A week ago today, his mother, Ms. Alma Johnson passed away. Our prayers and love are with Larry and the entire Johnson family. Below is a short epistle that has been sent to Mt. Zion UMC in Las Vegas, where the service of Death and Resurrection will be held on Tuesday, March 25th, at 10 AM. I have blogged it here so others may read it and extend similar prayers and words of encouragement.

Here is the obit from the Las Vegas Review Journal.

To: The Johnson Family
and all the faithful saints gathered at
Mt. Zion UMC in Las Vegas, Nevada

From: Rev. Kevin Baker
and the faithful saints of
Reconciliation UMC in Durham, NC

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to our God for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus.

The solemnity of Holy Week and Christ’s via dolorosa or “road of suffering,” was magnified last week with the passing of one of God’s saints, Ms. Alma Johnson. We believe it is significant that she died on the Monday of Holy Week and that she was with her beloved son. We also want to remind the entire family that just as Alma was baptized into Christ’s death, her life is now hidden with Christ in his glorious resurrection. Our Easter faith proclaims that Good Friday was not the last word for Jesus, and likewise, we ask you all to remember that Monday of Holy Week, 2008 was not the last word for Alma Johnson, one of God’s blessed saints and faithful witnesses.

For that reason, even as we gather with you in spirit this day to mourn the loss of one so loved and revered; we must not neglect to celebrate this home-going for what it truly is – a celebration of Alma’s life, her gifts, her love of God and neighbor, and her faithful work among the church and in the larger community.

Please know that our prayers, our condolences, and our love are with you all as you gather to worship God and celebrate the life and witness of Alma Johnson. To Larry, her beloved son, and Bernice, his wife, we extend our love, affection, and prayers, and pray God’s peace will be upon you so you may know your mother now rests in God’s presence and love. To her grandchildren, Fatima and Selena, we extend our love and prayers as well, and give thanks to God for the legacy of love and hope that Alma leaves behind in you. To her brother, John Henry, we extend our love and sincere condolences, and pray God’s spirit may comfort and console you at this time. To all the family, friends, and faithful gathered in memory and celebration of Alma Johnson, we send our love and our prayers – even as we witness together with you on this day to the sure and certain hope of resurrection from the dead that we all have in Christ Jesus our risen Savior.

May the God of all grace and Peace be with you now and forevermore,

Rev. Kevin Baker and the Reconciliation United Methodist Church Family

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