The Reverend Clay H. Turner
St. John’s Rector, 1975-1990
When Jane and our boys and I were with you, we spent many memorable days on or along the Appalachian Trail. While hiking the AT we would often encounter a rustic wooden sign on which was scrawled the motto of the Trail: “Take only memories; leave only footprints.” Those words taught us how to behave in the wilderness; we found them to be guideposts along life’s journey as well.
Take only memories; leave only footprints. Those words challenge us to be extra careful about the way we impact life around us. We are always accountable for the legacy we leave behind and for the influence we exert on whatever lies ahead. You are now being asked to consider seriously what legacy you will leave on your beloved parish.
Along the way I have been impressed by an ancient Chinese proverb which says that our purpose in life is to plant a seed for a tree under whose shade we shall never sit. I believe this wise saying contains the essence of profound Christian stewardship thinking about the way we are called to live and give of ourselves. As I have grown older (and I hope a bit wiser?) I have learned to appreciate the value of an endowment as a good way of planting a seed that will bear much good fruit in time to come. What kinds of seeds are you considering planting?
As I have been sharing these thoughts with you, my mind has been flooded with cherished memories of the magnificent joys, sorrows, struggles and growths, the crises and tranquil times we shared together. Our Lord has forever enriched and deepened my life in faith by giving me the chance to be a part of your life all those wonderful years. I will be eternally grateful to you for your love, guidance, support, and encouragement.
So now I challenge you to think deeply about the powerful difference St. John’s makes in your spiritual journey. Think also about bequeathing those same spiritual gifts to the thousands of faithful people who will follow in your footsteps to the corner of Jefferson and Elm. Think about your legacy and the impact your generosity can make on a future you cannot even imagine. What about your footprints?