nullAt the age of 98 years and nine months, it seemed like Esther would be with us forever, but God called her home while she was resting on the couch. She was one of the first people I met when I moved here 40 years ago to serve as the parish deaconess. Her gift of hospitality was well known, as was her jello fluff salad brought to all church functions.

A picture board was displayed at her funeral with photos of family, summer outings, and friends. But also noticable on that board were pictures of the church staff. For her, they were part of her family. We celebrated with Esther at family birthday parties, confirmations, and weddings. Now we were celebrating her going home to heaven.

In October, churches around the country celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month. For Esther, every day was clergy appreciation day. With the apostle Paul, she frequently exhibited his words: I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4).

Take time this month to appreciate those who serve at your church. Expressing your gratefulness for their service can show them how much you care. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give them strength. Provide them with small gifts or notes of encouragement. Volunteer when extra help is needed.

The LWML website has many suggestions for supporting, encouraging, and acknowledging pastors. Check out www.lwml.org/posts/kit-ideas/pastor-support-and-involvement-ideas. Sharing these supportive gestures with your whole church staff can encourage them to continue serving the Lord with gladness.

Deaconess Betty Knapp