One hundred years later I was a young United Methodist pastor serving a 4-point charge in Frederick, Maryland in 1984. I had only been ordained for 3 years when American Methodism turned 200. My husband was serving a 3-point charge at the same time and we had two small children. Life was busy and full. The General Conference of the United Methodist Church would be held in Baltimore that year and we brought our church members down on school buses to see that great musical extravaganza in the Baltimore Civic Center. There was a souvenir coin minted for the bicentennial as there was for the centennial. We bought these heavy brass coins and put them in our pockets and remembered the grand and glorious celebration of our church’s rich history.
What a surprise to receive a little box from my father that year with a necklace inside. Dad was an antique collector and had somehow run across an original souvenir coin of the 1884 centennial. He realized how precious this was given the celebration we were having for the bicentennial. He had the coin dipped in silver and made into a necklace with a long silver chain. I remember showing it to church historians at the time and everyone agreed it was the real thing and that it was indeed a collector’s item. The silver did not make much sense to people but it made a lot of sense to me.
My father had a friend who he knew for many years who was a silversmith. Ray covered things in silver and polished silver and made silver jewelry. Dad always loved silver and when he would find some antique or unique thing he would have Ray dip it in silver. It was shiny and beautiful and made something drab and plain become something rich and valuable. He often would find items that were silver that had tarnished from years of not being polished and he would recognize it for what it was and get Ray to polish it up and it was transformed into a glittering prize. That is the kind of person my Dad was. He saw the good in everyone, even the tarnished souls of life and was always willing to give and help and give people a second chance. He saw silver in everyone even covering them with the silver of forgiveness and dignity when necessary.