Geoffrey stood outside the main doors to the church building each Sunday. He wore tracksuit pants, a stained flannelette shirt and his one and only blue sports coat. He liked to wear his coat on Sundays. He carried a big old leather Bible.
He greeted people as they arrived in a voice that many could not understand. He often dribbled as he spoke. Most weeks, once the service commenced, Geoffrey would head home to his boarding house lodging.
In those precious minutes Geoffrey experienced community. Despite living each day on the margins, here in this space, he appreciated glimpses of genuine belonging.
Geoffrey didn’t understand my responsibilities and busyness. He couldn’t quote our vision statement. But he knew that church should feel like “home” and so many gracious people embraced Geoffrey into their hearts.
Every second Thursday, right on time, Geoffrey would tap on the office window, and we would drive to the cemetery, where I would pray for him and thank God for his deceased parents. It was a pastoral ritual that meant so much to him.
Another adventure was taking Geoffrey clothes’ shopping as he would always step out of the change room, in his undies, to tell you something didn’t fit.
I was once cautioned not to give as much time to Geoffrey. “You have more important things to attend to” – a comment that certainly didn’t reflect the compassionate church community I was privileged to lead at the time.
In a recent group exercise, I had to write down the names of people who had most shaped and influenced my leadership.
I am so glad that Geoffrey was on the list.
He never knew it, but he poured far more into my life than I did his. He never knew it, but he taught me so much about Christ-like leadership.
Thank you my old friend!