This Monday, I had the privilege of attending the funeral service of Rev. Sam Dunbar, pastor of two nearby churches and friend to many at Mt. Haley. I never knew Sam personally, but my parents did, and I know his daughter Jenny from my seminary days. Something that happened at the end of the service was very striking, very powerful, and I’d like to share it with you.

The funeral, held in the tabernacle at the St. Louis campgrounds, was officiated by Dr. Bill Jones. At the conclusion of the service, he asked all of the pastors and ministers who were present to line both sides of the tabernacle’s center aisle as the casket was taken out of the building. While this was going on, we were to fulfill one of Sam’s wishes: that there be a choir singing at his funeral. Dr. Jones asked the clergy in the aisle to sing the first verse of one of our most well-known and beloved hymns:

Praise the Lord! My heart with his love is beaming.
I am a child of God!
Heaven’s golden light over me is streaming.
I am a child of God!

I am a child of God!
I am a child of God!
I have washed my robes in the cleansing fountain.
I am a child of God!

And then the full congregation joined in the other three verses. It was a beautiful and moving experience! It nearly brought me to tears, but I felt a more powerful sensation – that singing literally took my breath away. I couldn’t sing full phrases, because I had to catch my breath! Each person that lined the center aisle sang their own testimony, but they also sang on behalf of this pastor who died too young. Each person in the room who gave their voices to the final verses of the hymn did the very same thing. I could tell that this man had truly impacted the lives of those gathered in the room – even mine, though I had not met him before.

Saved from sin today, every band is riven.
Through the tests of life, I have peace from heaven.

–Pastor David

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