The love and generosity of an entire town overwhelmed our family last night as First Baptist in Ware Shoals hosted a Love Offering Concert for Callie.
Since we learned Callie has SMA, First Baptist members have responded with notes of encouragement, prayers and donations. But a group of church members wanted to do more.
So they formed a committee which planned, publicized and executed Sunday’s concert. We simply showed up and joined about 400 other people in the audience who had come from several local churches and from towns throughout the Upstate of South Carolina.
I arrived a little apprehensive about putting Callie’s weaknesses in the spotlight and dwelling on her illness in a public setting.
But the words and music that followed did not focus on grief and sadness. Instead, they celebrated Callie’s life and her purpose, the strength of a community and the fact that we are not alone as we face the challenges of Callie’s journey with SMA.
During his introduction, newspaper publisher, church member and family friend Dan Branyon put the evening into context by pointing out Callie’s ties to First Baptist, which go back at least five generations.
Several of Callie’s aunts, uncles, a great-aunt and her grandfather were among the array of musicians who presented a poignant selection of traditional and inspirational music, while downstairs volunteers prepared a reception complete with an Elmo cake, which Callie loved.
A video (which we’ll post on the site soon) gave an overview of Callie’s journey so far, and Christy talked briefly about SMA and Callie. Pastors Marcus Bishop, Dan Compton and Leon Jones spoke. And members of the congregation responded with such generosity that we still are stunned and humbled.