After spending three great years in Ft. Worth, which saw the birth of our son Luke LeCroy in July of 1978, Melodye with an E and I packed up and headed for the friendly confines of sweet home Alabama in June of 1980.
Shortly after arriving back in LA (Lower Alabama for the uninitiated) I preached a sermon at the Camden Baptist Church. There were two search committees there that day and the one (at a time) that we chose to deal with was from the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Burnsville, AL. We wound up receiving and accepting a call from Shady Grove and spent the next three years of our young marriage there.
Our daughter, Leah, was born at the “new” Vaughn Memorial Hospital there in January of 1983. Oddly enough, I was born in the “old” Vaughn Memorial Hospital back in September of 1952. It was there, before me and mama even left the hospital, that I was nicknamed “Tweetie” by my brother Jerry LeCroy. Tweetie eventually evolved into “Bird” around 1966. I have my dear departed friend Tom Ratcliffe to thank for that moniker.
In the summer of 1982 a pastor colleague of mine was about to take a call to a church in Montgomery. He was the volunteer BSU (Baptist Student Union) campus minister at nearby Wallace Community College. He asked me if I would like to fill that position when he left Selma. I agreed to do this.
Accepting that role would prove to be another huge turning point in the saga of Me and Paul.
It was during the brief time I was there at Wallace that I felt a powerful affinity for working with college students. I could certainly relate to being quite lost and gloriously “found” during my collegiate years. I do so relish the memories made at Auburn, Patrick Henry and Troy to this day.
While attending seminary in Ft. Worth I went on two “mission” trips to fledgling churches in Upstate New York. One trip was to Brushton and the other to Saranac Lake, NY. It was on these trips that I sensed a deep connection to that part of our country. The work taking place there did not enjoy the relative riches and resources that many of our baptist churches in the bible belt did. I was moved by the dedication of those who stepped out of their comfort zones to take on such challenging work.
Now back to Selma.
I began to pray seriously about what God would have me do next. I was experiencing that restless stir of a “call” again way down deep in my soul. It was during one of these times of prayer that I put together the love of student ministry with the connection with the people and place of Upstate New York.
After one of these prayer sessions I remembered a package sent out by the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a new program entitled Mission Service Corps that placed people in places of service that had no funding. One would be required to raise their own funds to take this type of position.
I browsed through the booklet and saw that there was a need in Buffalo, NY. The light went on at that point. I talked to Melodye with an E, we prayed about it and I promptly phoned the head of this program in Nashville, TN. He told me that the coordinator of campus ministry in New York, Quentin Chip Lockwood, was in Music City as we spoke and would I like to come meet with them IMMEDIATELY !!!
Long story short is… we went to Nashville, we met with Chip and we came up with a loose outline of a plan to work toward a position at the University at Albany – SUNY. Neither Chip nor many other people, saw the strong possibility of this plan coming to fruition. It seemed like a long shot. But me and God had different ideas and we went after it like somebody trying to kill a snake with a hoe. And, with a great assist from the good folks at Shady Grove in Burnsville, everything fell into place and me and Paul found ourselves set to make the trek to the beautiful Hudson Valley in Upstate New York.
The three years we spent at SUNY, and Trinity Baptist Church in Schenectady, NY, were three of the absolute best years of our lives. God blessed us so very very richly during that time and that was due, primarily, to some of the finest people we have ever had the good pleasure of meeting in our lives.
Many of you have found out, as did we, that just when you think you are presented with an opportunity to, hopefully, touch the lives of others YOU are the ones who are profoundly touched and changed. And when you feebly take that step of faith, into the unknown, that you are blessed and transformed beyond your wildest dreams. These memories continue to move me profoundly today.
I would now like to pause and give a BIG shout out to some of the wonderful people who helped make that time so special to me and my family… Don Meagher Linda Meagher Donna Williams Durfos Bob Longobucco Mary Robinson Oill Steve Oill Maureen Athens Christopher Hoyer (Doris Hoyer) Gus Ribeiro and many others who are not on Facebook (or, at least, I have yet to find them). God bless each and every one of you. I love you all so very dearly !!!
During our time in New York Melodye with an E taught at both Pineview Christian Academy and Shaker High School. I was stationed at Chapel House on the campus of SUNY. Chapel House was comprised an interfaith group that consisted of Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Jewish ministers and representatives. The staff at SUNY graciously accepted this fast talking southern oddity into their circle and I will be forever thankful for their love, patience and kindness. The lessons God taught me through them will stay with me forever and I cherish them all a great deal.
In New York we learned to pick apples, call co-cola soda and eat fluff ‘n nutter. We also became hopelessly addicted to Buffalo wings during this time and we have yet to find wings that match those we enjoyed so so much at Skipper’s Tavern and the Across the Street Pub. My mouth waters and I begin to sweat under my eyes when I think about them !
Community Supper was a great time at SUNY. It was held at Chapel House on Wednesday evenings and all faith groups participated. On two of the occasions when I was responsible for the festivities, I put together a “Southern Culture and Cuisine” program. Some of the women in our church would fry up some chicken, put together some tasty southern side dishes and we would have us a hoedown. After we ate I would, in a most rudimentary fashion, strum a few cords and do my best to cover a few tunes by George Jones, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson and the like.
When Paul was on spring break we would take the train down to “The City” and spend a week attending Broadway shows and taking in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple.
We also adopted the New York Mets as our team (’83-’86) and had some great times at Shea Stadium. We did make two trips to hallowed Yankee Stadium. This was HUGE to me as the Yankees were my favorite team throughout my childhood. I started following baseball closely during the summer of 1961 and that was the year of the great home run chase that saw Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in hot pursuit of the Babe’s home run record of 60 dingers in one season. Maris, of course, broke the record with 61 and The Mick hit 54. Mickey Mantle has been my favorite major league player ever since that season.
Well, it’s time to conclude today’s blog in the continuing adventures of Me and Paul. And let me say this with feeling… I LOVE NEW YORK !!!!