On Christmas Eve the Church lost a leader and benefactor, and I lost a dear friend. Her name was Maxine Garrett.
Maxine grew up in Indianapolis where she entered banking and was active in the Moravian Church. While in Indianapolis, she became friends of then Mayor Richard Lugar, who eventually served in the US Senate. It was a friendship that would last for years.
Maxine found her way to Washington DC and a position with Riggs National Bank, where she worked her way up to VP for International Banking in charge of the foreign embassy accounts. Of course when she went to DC, she also became active at Faith Moravian Church and played a pivotal role in its growth. As her work at Faith took shape, she also became a leader in the Northern Province and eventually served on the PEC, with a special focus on stewardship.
Maxine had a tender heart, loved her Church, and was not shy about expressing her beliefs. And, everyone took her seriously, because she “walked the walk”.
I came to know Maxine shortly after arriving on the job almost 18 years ago. I was attending a Stewardship Committee at the Northern Province, and I knew right away that Maxine was special. We quickly became friends and stayed in touch throughout the years,always greeting each other with a big hug and kiss. There was a problem - she was about 5’4” and I stand at 6’4” – but we seemed to overcome our physical differences and laughed about it.
As time progressed she talked about Faith Moravian Church and how she wanted to do something to help its ministries “long after I am gone”. Then she decided to leave DC and return to Indiana, but rather than settling in Indianapolis, she landed in Terre Haute to be near her daughter and family.
When she sold her home in DC, she dedicated a generous portion of the proceeds to create a permanent fund through the Foundation. The Maxine Garrett Mission and Ministry Fund benefits her Church in DC as she wanted to help Faith pay off some debt and then support its work in the DC neighborhoods.
I remember these conversations so well. She was so excited to do something very significant for her Church. She said “God has blessed my family and me in so many ways. I simply want to give the Church something back to help it do more.”
Annually, the Garrett Fund makes awards to Faith, but Maxine wasn’t done. On a visit to see her in Terre Haute, she said she wanted to do more to help Faith. It was a great visit. She asked if I could help the United Methodist Church she was attending talk about giving. I said sure and I paid a couple more visits to help her church! Maxine created a generous gift annuity that would eventually pour into the Garrett Fund at her death.
Then a couple years ago I received a call from Maxine and she told me she had been diagnosed with ALS. I was heartbroken, but her faith was strong. I remember her words: “Paul, I don’t fear what I face. God will be with me. And when I pass, I hope He forgives me for my sins so I might join Him and my family and friends who preceded me.”
We stayed in touch. When I posted something on Facebook, I could depend on Maxine liking it or offering a kind or funny comment. When I heard that she died on Christmas Eve, I felt sad, but I remembered her words. I have little doubt she is now in the more immediate presence, and I know she is also offering some counsel on how He could run the place a little smoother!
Maxine talked the talk, walked the walk, and loved her Church and the Lord. I look forward to seeing her again one day and to bending down to give each other a big hug and kiss.