Safford leaving will be big void in community
Richard arrived 23 years ago, his young family in tow, to fill the pulpit at Community Presbyterian Church. What he did was much more than that. Not only did he minister to his congregation, he ministered to the entire community.
It didn’t matter if you were a member of his church. If you had a need and he could fill it, he did.
It really didn’t even matter if you were particularly religious. If Richard could help, he did.
Richard probably set a record for performing as many weddings and funerals for members of his congregation as he did for people who never darkened the door of his church on Sunday. And that’s OK with him. It really is.
It’s not a matter of filling the pews. It’s a matter of helping others that is Richard’s priority. And by doing that, he did fill the pews of his church as well as the hearts of this community.
One of the criteria for Citizen of the Year is that the contributions an individual makes to the community must go beyond what he or she does for a living. As much as most ministers do for their churches and their communities, it’s tough to qualify. Most of their good deeds go hand-in-glove with their job descriptions.
Yet Richard exceeded that. Easily.
About 10 years into his ministry here, I began wonder
ministry here, I began wonder how much longer he would be here. He was, and is, hugely popular, and people from all over the country attend that church. Someone, I thought, is going to scoop him up.
But it didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen, until, finally, I thought it wouldn’t happen.
And now it has.
Community Presbyterian Church is going to miss Richard, and so is the community of Port Aransas. He won’t be easy to replace. He can’t be replaced. Whoever fills this pulpit next will be a horse of a different color. Has to be. No one can come in and try to be Richard.
I’m trying to be happy for Richard and his family. They are embarking upon an exciting adventure, going from sea level to the mountain top; from the definition of “cold” as 50 degrees (for about five minutes) to freezing or below for months at a time; from shorts, aloha shirts and sandals to jeans, plaid button-ups and boots.
The truth is, I’m selfish and I’m sad. I’m one of the many who are not official members of Community Presbyterian Church who have turned to Richard in time of need. He has always been there, with the right words, the needed guidance, the love and the warmth that made everything OK again.
Richard is going to leave a huge hole in this community, and in all of our hearts.
As you wished this community in your final “Pastor’s pen” column last week, vaya con Dios, Richard. You are loved, you will be missed and you will never be forgotten.
Mary Henkel Judson is editor and co-publisher of the South Jetty. Contact her at southjetty@centurytel. net, (361) 749-5131 or P.O. Box 1117, Port Aransas,