One of my ancestors is Rev. Isaac Taylor. Taylor was my great, great, great grandfather. Back when the Methodist movements of North Alabama were part of the Mississippi Conference, he was one of a trio of brothers who were circuit riders and pastors starting in the 1820's. He is buried in the graveyard at Taylor Memorial UMC near Trussville, Alabama, a church his brother founded.
I recently got information on his appointment history from an archivist who searched the General Minutes of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She found the following:
1836-37 Admitted on trial. Appointed to Louisville in the Holly Springs District
1838 Admitted into Full Connection. Appointed to Rankin in the Brandon District
1839 Serving as a Deacon. Appointed to the Decatur Mission in the Paulding District
I wrote to churches in Louisville, Brandon, and Decatur, Mississippi, hoping to find some sense of any churches which might know of remaining evidence of his work. I immediately heard back from the pastor of Louisville First UMC. He said that the church was founded in 1836, but that the first pastor was not sent until 1837, a Rev. Langford. Otherwise, the records are sketchy.
Wow. It seems obvious to me that my ancestor had something to do with that church ... the dates are too coincidental for me to believe otherwise. Perhaps he actually helped organize it, or perhaps it was simply a result of his preaching missions in that area. I enjoyed looking on the church website and downloading a bulletin, finding that it is a nice sized, thriving downtown church. I wonder if my great, great, great grandfather could have imagined its future.
Probably not. The joy of planting seeds is that we really don't know where it will lead. I love the parable of sower because it is the way of the kingdom of God. We spread love freely, and some of it takes root according to the richness of the soil. We are not in charge of how well the plant grows, but simply with the task of spreading seeds freely. In today's culture fixated on production and results, we could learn from saints who passionately plant seeds and trust God for the results.
I wonder when I attend that church meeting, or post something on my blog, or say a kind word, or share some music, or spend some time with my kids, or perform some random act of kindness if I can ever imagine where it might lead?
That's the joy of planting seeds. I have no idea. There is such freedom in letting go of results.