Tearful, Hopeful Church Service Marks Departure Rev. B.L. Jordan
Rev. B.L. Jordan’s two-year tenure as minister at Lake City’s Community Presbyterian Church came to a close at a farewell service marked by tears and congregation members passing boxes of tissues on Sunday morning, April 29.
In her farewell sermon punctuated by periodic pauses to wipe her eyes, Rev. Jordan drew a correlation with the branches of a vine.
Aggressive pruning of the vine is an often difficult, painful process which is necessary in order for the vine to reach its ultimate fruit-bearing potential.
Rev. Jordan frequently referred to the extremely difficult decision to retire from the church, following serious health challenges which she and her husband Ray experienced within weeks of one another last winter.
“You don’t need to know where you’re going when God is leading,” she told a capacity audience at last Sunday’s service, “and that,” she added, “has helped my heavy heart.”
Jordan concluded her sermon by telling the congregation, “Go with God, I love you guys.”
Assisting in Sunday’s farewell service was church member Alan Moore with several Bible readings on the topic “perfect love casts out fear,” and gratitude which was expressed by local Episcopalian minister
Rev. Ed Nettleton.
“On behalf of the clergy of Lake City, I wish to extend our gratitude for everything which you have done on behalf of the churches of Lake City,” Nettleton said.
As congregation members and guests dabbed tissues to their eyes, church member Tony Touchon praised the departing minister, recalling that she came to the local church at a troubled time and “she corrected the boat.”
Sunday’s farewell service concluded with a robust rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” performed on the church’s historic 1880s pump organ by Celeste Scott, and was followed by a farewell luncheon in Darley Hall.
Rev. Jordan’s two-year tenure at Community Presbyterian Church began in May, 2016, when she was named to fill a vacancy which had existed since September, 2014, following the resignation of the church’s prior minister, Rev. Rick Underwood.
A church search committee will be named to seek her replacement and, in the interim, church member John Roose has been designated as Supply Pastor to conduct Sunday services until a replacement is named.
Prior to moving to Lake City in 2016, Ray and B.L. Jordan lived at Denton, Texas, near Dallas and owned a seasonal cabin at Ptarmigan Meadows near the Hinsdale-Mineral county line.
With the aid of their daughter, Denver resident Robyn Jordan Leole, they are in process of packing in preparation for a May 14 move to a new home which they have purchased in Denton.
Denton has a population of around 125,000 and is located within commuting distance of Dallas. Several family members live within close proximity, including two of B.L.’s brothers who live in Denton and Ray’s sibling who resides in Dallas.
With her characteristic warm smile, Rev. Jordan predicts they will take only the requisite time to unload boxes in Denton before hurriedly returning to their Ptarmigan Meadows cabin for the summer.
“We’ll throw the boxes in, close the door, and drive right back here,” she says.
Rev. Jordan has no plans to seek a new church ministry and is in fact now retired, although in her seasonal homes in both Denton and Ptarmigan Meadows she will be available as a supply pastor to fill temporary, short-term absences of full-time ministers. One of the joys of her work in Lake City was learning the discipline to research and prepare each week’s sermon, “and then having the joy of sharing it.”
At her home church in Denton, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, she says she is looking forward to teaching Sunday Bible classes.
In an informal conversation with the Jordans following Rev. Jordan’s farewell sermon, they tell SILVER WORLD that their health-related decision to resign from Presbyterian Church and leave Lake City was “heart-wrenching.”
The decision to end her two-year pastorate here was necessary, however, as the result of a “wake-up call” when both B.L. and Ray suffered serious health challenges within days of one another last winter.
The Jordans credit Lake City’s “incredible EMTs” who responded following Ray Jordan’s heart attack on December 3 last year. A little over two weeks later, on December 19, Rev. Jordan was undergoing heart ablation testing at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction when she suffered a stroke.
They refer to the two back-to-back health scares as a wake-up call — “how many chances do you need?,” she asks — which ultimately led to Rev. Jordan’s resignation from the Lake City church.
Surrounded by packing boxes last Monday morning, B.L. Jordan smiles in recalling the couple’s 38-year seasonal association with Lake City.
The busy AT&T executives routinely spent summers on the upper Rio Grande in advance of building their Ptarmigan Meadows getaway in 1999-2000. Each Sunday, however, they drove to Lake City to attend morning services at Community Presbyterian Church.
They became close friends with the church’s pastor, Rev. Norman Fowler, and his family. It was during one of those visits, while standing in the hallway at Darley Hall in 2008, that the former AT&T executive states she “received the call.”
Rev. Fowler had earlier casually asked her why she had not previously considered attending seminary.
Flashing her trademark smile, B.L. recalls she immediately raised her hand in a defense gesture. “I will not talk to you about that,” she adamantly responded to Rev. Fowler.
Retired from AT&T since 1998, B.L. says she and Ray had the “perfect life” and had absolutely no inclination to enter into a second, ecclesiastical career.
“I fought it,” she says, “up to that point all we wanted in retirement was to be together and travel. Why would I want anything else?”
Her transition to a new career began gradually with Stephen Ministry in Denton during the winter months and at Lake City during her summer sojourns.
Despite her initial protests, B.L. was formally ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 2014.
She was associated with the Federated Church in Carlinville, Illinois, for 2-1/2-years, 2014-2016, prior to accepting the post at Community Presbyterian Church in Lake City.
Referring to Tony Touchon’s statement about “righting the boat,” Rev. Jordan says that while brief, her two years at the helm of the Lake City church filled a goal.
“Our time here,” she declares, “has been a gift from God.”
Jordan refers to the “absolute joy” of the local Presbyterian congregation, “their heart and spirit are amazing.” In yet another reference to piloting a boat, she adds, “I provided the direction, but it was the congregation who actually turned it.”
Asked for new-found understanding which perhaps accompanied her two-year residence in Lake City, both Ray and B.L. Jordan briefly cast their eyes toward the ceiling, past the columns of packing boxes.
They both refer to their delight in getting to know the Lake City community. Prior to moving here, “we knew the congregation and had made individual friends with members of the church,” Ray says.
Finishing this line of thought, B.L. continues, “but during the past two years we have truly gotten to know the community as a whole.”
They both agree that after living here, they both have a new-found appreciation for the town.
Delights to both Jordans is the seasonal variable between summer arrivals and year-round residents who make their home in Lake City.
With two years’ reference, the Jordans refer to Lake City as a “close and wonderful community” which is multi-faceted. It has developed in a particular fashion in part owing to the fact of its remoteness. “It’s 50 miles to many necessary services,” B.L. says, “and that brings with it its own unique challenges.”
Despite the occasional challenges, “it was definitely worth the view,” she says.
B.L.’s work as the church’s minister was ideal, she says, “if you could dream up an ideal situation, this was it.”
Ray terms the couple’s interaction with the community as a “marvelous thing,” adding that he has enjoyed getting to know both summer and winter residents, as well as his participation in men’s Bible Study.
He laughs, noting friends have suggested he write a book on the role reversal which he has experienced — and apparently thrived — in Lake City.
“Many books have been written about the wife’s supporting role when her husband is the minister. Have you ever seen a book about what the man is supposed to do when his wife is the minister?”
One of those acquired skills, according to Ray, was yard maintenance and indirectly leads to the topic of Rev. Jordan’s farewell sermon on the attributes of tree pruning.
“Ray,” according to his wife, “is a ferocious pruner. While the actual application may be painful, the end result was always spectacular!”
As her May 14 moving date to Denton approaches, Rev. Jordan recalls a quote from one of her favorite authors, Frederick Buechner.
Without a pause and reciting from memory, B.L. recounts “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
And that, she adds, is a philosophy which can be applied to both a global view and a more intimate setting deep in the Colorado mountains.
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