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Editorial: Remembering the Fordhams

Words cannot express the loss and pain we feel in the passing of Henry and Sharon Fordham, president and first lady of the Allegheny East Conference. Few leader-couples have touched our lives as much as they did, and our hearts are with their family and conference family.

President Fordham was a quintessential Christian gentleman and friend who demonstrated genuine love for Jesus, for his dear wife, Sharon, for his family and for everyone he encountered.

He served with heart, led with humility and blessed countless lives.

He never passed up an opportunity to visit a member, pastor, employee or colleague who was sick, bereaved, in trouble or in need. Nor did he pass a hurting stranger without trying to help. I will never forget walking the streets of India with him during a mission trip. So many people sought financial assistance, and he gave everyone something.

He was a powerful preacher and mentor who wasn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics or speak the truth with love. Many a Sabbath morning found him arriving to speak at churches disguised as a homeless man. The object lessons were poignant, as he later revealed his true identity, reciting with fervor Matthew 25:35–40: “‘For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. ... Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (NKJV).

President Fordham had a tremendous zest for life and adventure. His office resembled a museum, and he loved to regale all who visited with stories of each exotic item. He would point to something like a snakeskin, chuckle, and explain where he got it, how he got it and why he kept it. I can only imagine that in heaven his house—or should I say mansion—will be full of living creatures. I can’t wait to visit him there!

My wife, Becky, who serves our Columbia Union as director for the Ministerial Spouses Association, describes First Lady Sharon Fordham as “one of the kindest, most gracious and thoughtful” persons she had ever met. I couldn’t agree more!

Together, this dedicated couple, who served in our union for their entire 47 years of ministry, embodied the words of Jesus, who said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, NKJV).

May the same be said of all of us!

Dave Weigley serves as president of the Columbia Union Conference.


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