Like I mentioned in my last pastor’s column, I’ve been learning many fascinating things about Hickory Rock’s history in my research for our 100th anniversary next year. The most incredible thing I’ve learned so far is that I actually have a relative buried in the churchyard. Not only that, but some of my relatives have been living amongst you for decades! Here’s the story…
While compiling a list of people buried at the church, one name stood out: Willie Mae Posey Johnson, 1926-1994. Now Posey isn’t a common name, but it’s very important to me, because my great-grandmother Lamkin was born a Posey. So I wanted to know about this mystery Posey buried right outside the front of the Fellowship Hall. I did some digging online, and lo and behold, Willie Mae and my Mamaw Lamkin were 5th cousins!
Now I was really excited. Since this Willie Mae was from Texas and married a Johnson from here in a Franklin County, I knew I wanted to talk to Mrs. Faye. She was also from Texas and married a Johnson from Franklin County. So I took my notes to her house.
“Mrs. Faye, did you know this woman who was born a Posey?” “Oh of course. She was my sister.” I was stunned. “So you’re a Posey too?!?” “Oh yes.” I couldn’t believe it. I told Mrs. Faye that she and my great-grandmother are 5th cousins. That meant she and I are cousins too! She couldn’t believe it either.
She called her kids to tell them that they’re distant cousins with the preacher. When I got in my car, I called my dad to tell him that not only had some Poseys invaded Hickory Rock, but they have been brightening it in wonderful ways for decades. What are the chances that two distant Posey cousins from west of the Mississippi ended up here at the same church together?
The Poseys immigrated to America from France a hundred years before the Revolutionary War and settled in Maryland. In the early 1800s, two Posey cousins decided to move. One was Faye’s ancestor; the other was mine. Eventually, my Posey family stopped in Louisiana, while Faye’s Posey ancestors went to East Texas. Mrs. Faye told me that one Sunday, a man visited her church. He was from Franklin County and had been stationed in Texas while in the military. They got married, moved back here, and started a family. When Faye’s sister Willie Mae came to visit, she fell in love with the area and with another Johnson, so she stayed too and is now buried at Hickory Rock.
In 2012, I felt God leading me to serve in a church. I saw a notice that described a special little church called Hickory Rock that was looking for a pastor. So I sent them an e-mail, and God took care of the rest. (Little did I know that I had a distant cousin serving on the Pastor Search Committee in the form of Steve Johnson!)
Isn’t that amazing? A family connection, over 300 years old, that separated 200 years ago, ends up back together right here at Hickory Rock. That reminds me of the truth I mentioned in the last issue: “God was in the story.” And how thankful am I that it’s true!
God is in your story too. But it won’t accomplish much if you don’t let God work. What would have happened if Mrs. Faye’s husband Sam had not visited a church while stationed in Texas? They never would’ve met, married, and moved back here to bless our community with so many great Johnsons. All because someone visited a church, and someone else welcomed them.
So, is there someone you know who would appreciate visiting a warm, loving church? Is there someone who needs to feel the blessing of having a family of faith that supports them, like Hickory Rock does? Then invite them to come. Help them meet the other nice folks here. And who knows, you might be helping to change their life in amazing ways that won’t be noticed for decades. But if you are willing to take steps of faith, then you can be confident that God is there, working in your story.
Grace and peace,