Marian McManus passed away this week. Most of you did not know her.
When I came to Alice Drive twenty years ago, Keith McManus, Marian’s husband, was serving as Minister of Education and Senior Adults. Keith was over 60; I was 34. It didn’t take a genius to realize his twelve years of service at the church, plus his age and experience, helped the church trust him more than they trusted me.
People trusted Keith and Marian because they cared. They were there for births, deaths, weddings, and illnesses. I always heard people say “We love Keith and Marian.” Never just Keith; never just Marian; always both.
Marian had a passion for preschoolers. Even though we didn’t have many preschoolers when I first came, she made sure teachers were trained and families were loved.
Keith and Marian started “Singles Again” for people who were widowed and divorced. It was the first ministry of its kind in Sumter. For years, it was the primary way Alice Drive reached people. They also started the first Special Needs Sunday School class (LIFE Group now). No other church in Sumter had a group for people who might struggle to fit in until Keith saw their need.
Keith and Marian would go one to serve Alice Drive for another year after I arrived. Declining health forced his retirement. He briefly serve a couple of churches on a part time basis, but soon that became too much. Cancer took him too soon. Marian stayed in Sumter for a few more years, until her declining health caused her to move to North Carolina to be close to her son and his family.
Why do you need to know the story of this woman most of you don’t know? Because Keith and Marian planted seeds that helped this church grow to be a place of grace. They had a heart for overlooked people – children, singles, special needs folks. When I came, those seeds were already growing. My job was to water, fertilize, and pull some weeds. God kept them growing.
The Apostle Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”[i]
When we remember those who came before, we are delivered from self-righteous pride. We are reminded God does the growing. We claim our unique role, whether we plant, or water, or pull weeds.
When you read this, would you pause to give God thanks for Keith and Marian McManus? They planted seeds to make Alice Drive a place of grace.
And would you remember someone is coming behind us? Put some seeds in the ground for the next harvest.
[i] 1 Corinthians 3:6