August 23, 2011

Eulogizing the Deceased



     The time of grief and mourning when a loved one departs this earth is a time when everyone relates stories about how wonderful the deceased was. They were the perfect person, loved by all, willing to sacrifice anything for their friends in need. The deceased is portrayed in such a glorified manner that it makes me wish I had known them. I’m sure that my readers have heard these glorious eulogies.

     Sometimes the stories are just that—stories. The deceased person was actually antagonistic, self-centered, self-serving, and difficult to relate to. It’s amazing how the deceased person’s personality changes at the moment of death.


     Word reached me that the Rev. John D. Mears, an Episcopalian priest in Buffalo, New York, died August 13, 2011. I received the newspaper obituary in the mail, and then looked it up online.  I also scanned the online guest book: faithful, courageous, generous, a true Christian example, able to make you feel like the only one in the world, joyous, enthusiastic…

     Several persons wrote that the Rev. Mears performed their wedding ceremonies. On September 3, 2011, my husband Monte and I will celebrate our 45th anniversary. Rev.  Mears performed our wedding rite at the Good Shepherd Episcopalian Church, where he served as a priest.


     As preparation for the wedding we were required to have marriage counseling.

     Now, I don’t want to mar anyone else’s experience with the Rev. Mears, but it was during one of these counseling sessions that I became determined to have nothing more to do with the Church of the Good Shepherd.

     At one point the Rev. Mears asked us if we would be attending Good Shepherd Church after the wedding day.

     “We’ve discussed this,” I said. “Since Monte is far more involved in his church than I am here, we decided we would attend there.”

     The Rev. Mears looked at me just a moment before responding.

     “I can’t understand how you ever managed to get a husband while wearing braces on your teeth.”

     Both Monte and I were in shock at this bizarre statement. Did he say what we heard him say? I don’t recall what else happened in that session.

     When I told my mother about the conversation and how it upset us, she provided her own response: You just don’t understand the Episcopalian church!

      I said nothing more, but concluded that if that is what the Episcopalian church is about, I wanted nothing more to do with it. Had I been more courageous, had the wedding date not been scheduled so soon, and had my family dynamic been better, I would have changed the wedding site to Monte’s church.


     A priest/pastor has a responsibility to their congregants and the community at large. Part of this responsibility is to represent the love of Christ. Certainly, clearly, the Rev. Mears didn’t do that with me.

     Mine is only one story. It isn’t a pleasant one. Perhaps it should be silenced. However, I have carried the memory of the Rev. Mears’ statement with me for almost forty-five years.

     In 1985 my husband having completed three years of seminary training, began serving as a pastor in his mainline denomination. Through the years he served I saw the workings of the church from the inside. It was not always a pleasant experience—the politics, the disagreements, the whole dynamic. I have some understanding of why the Rev. Mears made the statement he made. However, I cannot believe, as my mother implied, that it was permissible for a clergy person to make insulting statements to their congregation members. And if he treated me in this manner, I have to wonder how many others he did the same to.

     At the very least the Rev. Mears should have recognized that I was not dropping out of THE church. I’m certain that many of the couples he performed the wedding rites for did not remain in his church—or any church.

     I write this knowing that some persons, including some of my family members, will be upset at my story. Perhaps they will question it. Perhaps they will not believe it. That is their choice.

     As I extend my condolences to the Rev. Mears’  family and friends  (among which my late mother was included) I am reminded that each of us is a blend of good and evil. I offer my forgiveness to the Rev. Mears, even as I continue not to understand the Episcopalian church.


MEARS – The Rev. John D. August 13, 2011, of East Aurora, NY, beloved husband of Dorothy (Dodd) and the late Grace K. and Gladys A. Mears; loving father of Kathleen (John) Carmichael, Dr. Gregory (Jane), Charlotte (James) Stovall and the late Stephen Paul Mears; survived by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Friends may call Monday 2-4 and 7-9 at St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, 2368 Eggert Rd, Tonawanda, where funeral services will be held Tuesday morning at 10. Friends invited. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to John D. Mears Home, Inc. Arrangements by LESTER H. WEDEKINDT INC., FUNERAL HOME, Tonawanda.—Published in the Buffalo News from August 14 to August 15, 2011






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  1. I value your blog.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

    Comment by Jovany Ducharme — March 22, 2012 @ 1:55 am | Reply

  2. Major thanks for the blog post. Fantastic.

    Comment by Faith Doan — April 16, 2012 @ 2:47 am | Reply

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