Three Radical Welcomers

The term radical hospitality can be defined as a practice of putting extraordinary effort and emphasis on making people feel welcome. This concept is often referred to as radical welcome and focuses on breaking down barriers that prevent people from participating in an effort, campaign, or community.

This Sunday, the little church I’ve been a member of for more than 30 years is honoring three of the most radical welcomers I’ve ever known. To begin the celebration we’ll be blessing and dedicating our new front doors, in loving and grateFULL memory of John Gardner, DeLane Shelley, and Dickie Crutchfield.

As you can tell from their smiles, all of these dear men loved to laugh and none ever met a stranger. They welcomed all and exemplified the love of Christ in word and deed. They were devoted to their Creator, families, community, and committed to improving the quality of life for all.

Thanks to memorial donations made in honor of John, DeLane, and Dickie, our beautiful solid mahogany doors were handcrafted by skilled local craftsmen.

But I digress…

I could go on and on and on… about John, DeLane, and Dickie, individually, but another quality they shared was Presence. Every.single.time I was in the presence of any these men, I felt like nothing in the world was more important to them than the conversation we were sharing at.that.moment. What a gift. What a welcome.

If you knew John, DeLane, or Dickie, please feel free to share a story about how one of them made you feel welcome. If you didn’t know them, please feel free to share a story about how you felt welcomed by someone dear to you.

6 thoughts on “Three Radical Welcomers

  1. I have many stories and fond memories of these radical welcomers. Though hard to limit it, I’ll try to share only one about each.

    John: we served on the church vestry together. We were tasked with finding new places in the county to install some new Welcome to the Episcopal Church signs. John picked me up in an old white pick up. We rode around for an afternoon scouting places to hang signs, making notes of locations and land owners to ask for permission to hang said signs, and laughing all the way. He made what could have been an ordinary and mundane task an enjoyable time. Such a fun afternoon!

    Dickie: when I was a very young child of about six years old, my mother relocated our family from Florida back to her hometown of Whiteville, NC. She took a job working as a book keepers helper for Dickie and his father in law, Mr. Wallace. She worked with them for a brief time until she decided to attend nursing school. They were very supportive of her decision to return to school and further her education. That one decision changed not only our lives, but likely countless others, too. I’m grateful they supported her in that decision to further her education. Dickie and his family also attended church with us. He frequently reminded me over the years how much he enjoyed watching me grow up from a little girl to a mom with children of my own. I have no doubt he was really sincere about that.

    DeLane: what is there not to say about this man who, though small in stature, had a giant sized heart. DeLane exuded kindness and love wherever he went. He willingly shared his knowledge and love for the earth. That was something I always appreciated about him. When we had a tragic house fire, he was one of the first on site to offer a helping hand. “ Whatever you need, just let me know. I’ll do it”. After the house was back together and it was time to put things back in order outside, he came over and advised us on our yard. One of his suggestions was where to add a bed for growing asparagus. And, that’s where the asparagus grows in our back yard. Thanks DeLane! We’ll never grow, pick or eat a stalk that we don’t think of you. .

  2. Thanks for these great stories, Susan! I couldn’t agree more with you about these three great men. IJohn brought The Joy wherever he went. Dickie was an encourager of ALL. And DeLane was love.
    I appreciate your taking the time to share your memories.

  3. What a great way to honor and remember these 3 men.I was blessed to count all 3 as a dear friend.I loved them all and miss them all.Dickie inspired me to jog.John and I commiserated on our golf games.Delane helped me right until his passing.Spent many a hour in conversation with these men.I’m a lucky guy.

  4. Yep, Carrie. I had a feeling you’d appreciate our new doors. Thanks!💜🌀✌🏼

  5. Thanks for joining in, Danny. Yes, you are lucky. And I know they considered themselves lucky because of you.

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