Marge Kelly is a hands-on person – the kind who dives into whatever job comes her way. Community UCC is better for her generous and can-do spirit. As stewardship season winds up, Marge talks about her commitment to the church and her determination to offer what she can to the congregation.
What does stewardship mean to you?
To me, stewardship is a fellowship type thing – reach out to people, try to do things for the church, get funds to keep it going.
How do you support the church?
Financially, I can’t really give much. But when I first starting coming, Susan Liberty [a former member] gave a talk and said an important thing to give is your time. So I thought about that, and I had all the time in the world. So why not give it to the church? I just feel blessed to be here. I’m on the fellowship team, and my enjoyment is seeing people smile and seeing the kids laugh. It’s just a joy to see people come to church.
What do you do on the fellowship team?
We set up for coffee every Sunday. I come way earlier than other people – sometimes at 6 o’clock. But that’s my choice. We set out snacks and sometimes we make our own dishes for the fellowship time after the Sunday service. I love helping people. So no matter which way I can, I’ll do it.
Could you talk about the relationships you have with others on the fellowship team?
Patty [Parks] and I just became really good friends. We’re both caring. She has brought food to my partner, who is terminally ill. That’s a blessing to me. Bonita [Earl] is another blessing. We’ve been asked to help with memorial services and we’ve done that. Amy [Richardson] and I have a special bond because I took care of Amy’s mom for a couple of years before she passed. Her mom was just a total blessing to me, and Amy and I still talk about her mom.
When did you come to the church?
In October, it will be 20 years. I’d just moved to Fresno and went to a few other churches. But when I came here for the first time, I knew this was my place. The people were so friendly and caring right off the bat. People would come all the way down to where I lived and pick me up.
Why did you stay?
I stayed because for many years I had a hole in my heart and tried all kinds of things to fill it – drinking, drugs, other things. When I started coming here, that hole filled up, and it had to do with the atmosphere. I felt like I finally belonged somewhere. This is where my heart was complete.
You got baptized here, right?
About eight years ago, I was going back and forth to New York because one of my sisters had cancer. I’d just come back to Fresno on one of my trips, and that’s when I got baptized. When that happened, I knew I really belonged.
What does God want this church to do?
Keep doing what it’s doing, and do more, if possible. I feel it’s very important for this church to keep going. If it were to fall, I think I’d fall with it.
You’ve seen a lot of changes here in the last 20 years.
A lot of people aren’t here anymore. Some have passed and some left for their own private reasons, and they’re all missed very dearly. Many years ago I read something in Ann Landers that said, “There are gold ships and silver ships, but there’s no ship like friendship.” I find it very true. It can be a friendship that goes back many years or a friendship just beginning.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I just love Pastor Ara, and I wish he didn’t have to leave [when a settled pastor is chosen and arrives]. He gets out there and works and does things that no other pastor has done that I’ve seen. He just shows so much caring toward people. He’s got God in him all the time, and that just excites me. He truly speaks about the love of God and the love of people.
~ Interview by Doug Hoagland