Daily Testimony of Love
Daily testimony of love
By Jennifer Graham, CBF Foundation Vice President
richards.jpgDuring my first week in my new position with the CBF Foundation, Daniel Vestal stopped by my office and said he was looking forward to introducing me to Irmeth Richards, one of his good friends. "She is an amazing woman of conviction and compassion and very committed to the CBF mission," he said.
The next week, I called and invited her to be my guest at the Open House for the new CBF Resource Center in Atlanta. She was so excited! As I loaded her walker into my car the morning of the open house, I worried that at age 87 the visit might be too much for her. When we arrived, I ask if she would like to take the tour or if she wanted to go find a good seat for the program. She wanted to take the tour. She was very curious and took time to peek in every office and meet every staff person. With great pride, she told me about attending the very first Fellowship meeting in Atlanta in 1990 and of her deep passion for CBF missionaries and missions. She was very committed to the future of CBF and proud to be one of the first to establish a Charitable Remainder Trust with the Foundation. Irmeth wanted to ensure that the missions she loved would continue even after her death.
Irmeth Richards was a delight to be around. Even at 87 years of age she was always ready for the next event. We set up a lunch date, but because of her busy schedule it took me several weeks to get on her calendar. Her daughter, Nancy, told me Irmeth stayed busy volunteering. "My mother has always been drawn to people in need and to her church family," she said.
During our visits, Irmeth loved to tell me stories about her family. She was born in the small town of Richland, Ga., and grew up with a deep love for nature and God’s wonderful creation. She attended Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C., and graduated from Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tenn. It was while attending Druid Hills Baptist church in Atlanta that she met her husband of more than 50 years, William (Bill) Richards. Bill and Irmeth had two children Nancy and Billy. Irmeth was blessed with twin granddaughters a little over seven years ago. They were the delight of her life! She loved all children and taught Sunday school in the churches she attended.
Irmeth died suddenly on April 4, 2009. I am grieving because I will miss getting to know her better. Her vibrant spirit was an inspiration to me. Her family and long time friends miss her wit, her spirit and her love.
"She was such an intelligent woman, so inquisitive, she never stopped learning," said Liz Pearson, her friend and the associate pastor of Braircliff Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Irmeth attended. "Irmeth believed that love should not be words only, but must be expressed through actions."
Author and minister Fredrick Buechner said, "In God’s holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints." In the Fellowship community there are many wonderful people like Irmeth Richards who touch my life with their daily testimony of love. The gift that she has made to CBF will enable ministry to continue far beyond her time as a saint on earth.