Frank Webb: Who is our neighbor?

January 26, 2011 10:45:00 AM

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On Monday I observed an event some of which should be passed on to others in our community. It concerned the life and more particularly the death of Mr. Hozie Hawthorne. Many knew Mr. Hawthorne and others read an article about his life and demise on the front page of The Dispatch, a good and fair article about Mr. Hawthorne in my opinion. 

 

For the last several years I sat a few seats down from Mr. Hozie on the same pew at Main Street Presbyterian Church, where I have been a member for over 60 years. 

 

When asked if I would be a pall bearer at his funeral I gladly agreed. On Monday I was a part of a sober yet joy-filled funeral service with Mr. Hawthorne''s family and many of his friends, both black and white, in attendance. I say sober, because of the manner in which Mr. Hawthorne died (hypothermia); yet joy-filled, because Mr. Hawthorne was a professing Christian, a fact giving comfort to both family and friends. Concerning his death there was genuine remorse and soul-searching by many in attendance and especially the members at Main Street Church. This was rightly noted by Main Street''s pastor, David Strain. Yet what must not be missed is what transpired at the funeral and afterward. 

 

In a predominantly white, Protestant church in the Deep South, a black family and many members from the primarily black Mt. Zion Pilgrim Missionary Baptist congregation came together in the Main Street Presbyterian Church''s worship hall and participated in a wonderful worship service in memory of Mr. Hozie''s life. A service highlighting the good while not glossing over the less-than-saintly aspects. In all my years being involved with this church, and the community, in general, I have never witnessed such a coming together of people for a worship service from the diverse social, economic, educational, and racial backgrounds as were present. 

 

The same was true at the interment at grave side. The church hosted a dinner for the Hawthorne family members in the church''s fellowship hall afterward. I am not here to heap praise on my church, since what happened is exactly what should have occurred. Mr. Hozie faithfully attended Main Street for the last several years. Without any question the church was a natural and proper place for his funeral. I am, however, gratified and encouraged having seen the genuine and loving interaction that took place during and after the funeral. I also am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part, and I appreciate the genuine and heartfelt gratitude given back to our church community by the Hawthorne family and Mr. Hozie''s friends. 

 

We can, as Christ commanded and with His help, treat our neighbors as ourselves, even as Mr. Hozie''s home going showed. Let us keep it up! 

 

Frank Webb''s e-mail address is fbwebb@cableone.net.