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Remembering the Rev. Dr. John R. Goodman

Remembrances shared on August 16, 2023

I am honored to stand here before Tee and family, along with cherished friends, and faithful servants to share words of remembrance about the Rev. Dr. John Robert Goodman. As Tee's second cousin, I grew up knowing John and Tee as a faithful couple - a pair - for when you heard one name, the other name would soon follow.

In August of 2015, my husband Reed and I, along with our two girls, River and Haven who were in elementary school at the time, stayed overnight with Tee and John in their home in North Carolina. We arrived in the afternoon and both Tee and John greeted us with smiles and hugs. We enjoyed catching up in the living room and sharing an evening meal around the table.

If you ask River and Haven what they remember the most about our visit, they will talk about how the lights went out that night. It was after dinner, and when the kitchen went dark, we all froze in our seats, thinking the lights would come back on. After a few long minutes of darkness, John and Tee searched for flashlights and found a few to use. In the beams of light, we sat around the kitchen table and told stories that began with the phrase, "I remember when." Eventually the lights came back on and everyone went to bed.

The following morning, John greeted Reed and I in the kitchen. I quickly learned that John was a morning person and Tee was not. So, as Tee and our girls slept, we enjoyed sipping coffee with John and engaging in ministry related conversations. John talked about serving in a variety of churches and presbyteries not in numbers, but rather in relationships. The celebrations and hardships all blended into one beautiful messy life with God and the body of Christ. On that day, I cherished his gentle spirit and compassionate wisdom about life and ministry.

Over the years, I appreciated the updates he would send by email about ministers from his discoveries as the alumni class secretary for his Davidson Class of 1962. I would pass these updates on to church members or colleagues who appreciated the continued connection with ministers and the opportunity to pray for them. Also, occasionally, we shared phone conversations regarding those holy ghost moments in ministry and hard truths ministers hold in confidence without the freedom to express the struggles with others.

As a pastor and servant of Christ, I appreciated the connection with a retired presbyter and faithful minister, especially the assurance that John was only an email message or phone call away. This past week, like many of you, I have stepped into John's footsteps of giving an update on a minister by contacting family, friends, and churches. I called the churches and presbyteries where John served in ministry. As I listened to members and staff members speak about John, I heard them recall the virtues we all know and love about him; his compassionate kindness, steady faithfulness, and authentic presence.

From the Presbytery of West Virginia, Susan Sharp Campbell, Associate for Educational Ministry spoke about her time serving with John. She said, "He was always well prepared and personable. His love for the dulcimer and commitment to the Presby Pickers was admired and deeply appreciated by all."

Also, in the Presbytery of WV, Maureen Wright, Transitional General Presbyter and Stated Clerk, wanted to express her sadness for John's loss and condolences to the family. Both she and her husband are pastors, and they both knew John. Her husband served a church in Coastal Carolina under John's leadership as Presbyter. When the clergy couple moved from South Carolina to West Virginia for new calls in ministry, they said it was nice to see John's familiar face in a sea of new faces. As the Presbyter of WV, he extended gracious care to them during their time of transition.

Regarding his role as pastor, I spoke with Bob Craun who served on the PNC at Spring Hill Presbyterian in Staunton, John's first pastorate. Bob said that he became good friends with John since they were about the same age. Bob said that he took care of the congregation very well.

Although he didn't remember a specific story, he did recall the morning when John broke the news to the Spring Hill congregation of his leaving and accepting a new call. Bob said, "It really took the wind out of our sails."

John and Tee left the call at Spring Hill and began a new call at First Presbyterian in Myrtle Beach. Johann McCrackin, member of First Presbyterian, stated that John was one of the sweetest ministers she had ever known. He was always so kind and caring. He was a real asset to their church while he was there. She went on to say that he led the children's sermon every Sunday and one Sunday, his children's sermon was on traffic signals. He held up a yield sign and asked the children what the sign meant? One of Johann's kids said, "Slow Down" and everyone laughed. She closed with saying, "John was a really special person."

Men and women might wake up one day with a divinity degree in hand and another day with the ministry role such as Presbyter, Minister, or Camp Director; however, the three letters REV before a name sealed with a period or the ever-changing job title - Minister of the Word of Sacrament, Pastor, Teaching Elder - after a name does not make one a pastor. It is not the human words that form a pastor but rather it is when the word becomes flesh in a person's life, and the daily call leads them to follow Jesus and point people to the love of God

Frederick Buechner, American author, Presbyterian minister, preacher, and theologian, once wrote, "Ministers have their heads in the clouds, which is just where you should have your head when your mind is on higher things." He went on to note that the first ministers were the twelve disciples. And there is no evidence that Jesus chose them because they were brighter or nicer than other people. Their sole qualification seems to have been their initial willingness to rise to their feet when Jesus said, "Follow me."

We are grateful for the ministers, like the disciples and John who have, are, and will follow love's way as they read scripture, preach sermons, officiate weddings, baptize children, feast at the Lord's table, pray near hospital beds, visit in living rooms, play music in sanctuaries, moderate meetings, proclaim everlasting hope by graves, and experience glimpses of the holy with the visible and invisible saints of the church.

Yet, we must not forget that minsters are simply men and women who in their daily lives wake up each day and form holy friendships, marry spouses, and parent children. I am sure Tee along with many others have a host of stories about their loving relationship with John as husband, father, grandfather, and faithful friend.

Like Charlie Ramsey, a member of Westminster where I serve as pastor, he was grateful for their Massanetta friendship from the summer of 1960 and the Rev. Doug Heidt for their lifelong friendship that began at Davidson College. And so I will close with a favorite college story from David about John and Tee.

Tee attended Winthrop College now University in South Carolina and he and John attended Davidson. One day, John and Tee had planned for a group of Davidson guys to meet up with a group of Winthrop ladies on a blind date. In those days, Doug said it was a big deal to go into the large city of Charlotte because Davidson was out in the country. At the time, Davidson had a post office, a drug store, and a diner.

Although the group of guys were skeptical of driving into Charlotte, they trusted John who said Tee would get them all dates. The only rule John gave them was that they could not leave the building. When they arrived, they were all standing around inside a building not knowing what to do. Soon, Tee paired the guys with their perspective dates for the evening. Shortly after this, Doug noticed Tee and John slip out a side door and they didn't return until it was time to go. Doug went on to say that John outranked everyone at Davidson college. He not only had a girlfriend, but he had a nice one too.

Let us continue to give thanks for the well lived and loved life of John Goodman.


At the Rev. Dr. John R. Goodman’s service, I was thankful to serve alongside the Rev. Reed Hopkins who serves as pastor at Loch Willow Presbyterian Church in Churchville. John’s dad, the Rev. Frank Goodman, served as pastor for 17 years at Loch Willow PC. Reed lives in the house where John once lived and preaches using the church Bible, John and Tee donated to the church. In Rev. Hopkins’ meditation, he spoke about his days at Camp Massanetta in 1970, the first year counselors were both white and Black. This was the vision of the new camp director, John Goodman who wanted all people regardless of race, social class, gender or other divider to be included, welcomed, and loved at Camp Massanetta.

Also at the service, I talked with the Revs. Clayton and Kate Rascoe who first met John while he was Presbyter in Coastal Carolina. Clayton had started as a camp director and Kate at a church. His faithful guidance and comforting presence led them gracefully through those first years of ministry. In September of 2022, John and Tee moved to Sunnyside Retirement Communities, only a hop, skip and jump away from Massanetta’s campus. Over the year, Clayton, Executive Director of Massanetta Springs, and Kate, Interim Pastor in Shenandoah's Presbytery, reconnected with John and Tee, gratefully offering in return faithful guidance and a comforting presence in their time of transition.

Before and after the service, I enjoyed reconnecting with extended family like Fran and Ellen Hamilton. In seeing their faces, I went back in my mind to the days when their parents, Bill and Laura, would travel from Florida to Boone, North Carolina. Great Uncle Bill and Aunt Laura would sit for hours in Grandmana’s and Pop’s living room. I remember sitting on the floor and listening to Bill talk about his latest license plate, and Laura talk about their girls, Tee, Fran, and Ellen. Also, it was a joy to speak with cousins again like Hamilton and Leann and meet for the first time my cousin Meegan.

While standing among all the people who knew and loved John, I felt connected to each person through a web of grace. Witnessing John and Tee's lifelong friendships in Jean Smith, Haywood McCallum, Jr., Doug Heidt, and John Ralston brought such comfort and joy. The web of grace-filled friendships reminded me of Victoria Atkinson White’s book entitled "Holy Friendships: Nurturing Relationships that Sustain Pastors and Leaders" as she writes, "Holy friends mutually affirm, challenge, and encourage each other because they know their friendship is not just about them; it is about how God is working through them and loving God's creation.”

As Hayword closed his remarks yesterday, “Thank you God for lending us your servant John.”

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