Date: 26 September 1997
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 167]: Memorial - Johnson City, TN


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Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 10:43:50
From: Jeannie Goins
Subject: Memorial for Rich September 25

Dear Danl,

What I would give to be sending you a review of a Rich Mullins concert
instead of  a summary of a Memorial Service to him, but God had better
things in mind for Rich.  Seeing the steeple of Seeger Chapel on the campus
of Milligan College in Johnson City, TN had always heightened my sense of
anticipation of a wonderful concert, but last night it started the flood of
tears instead.

I arrived early and took a seat near the front.  Instead of being full of
instruments, including that wonderful hammer dulcimer, the stage was nearly
bare - a piano, an acoustic guitar, one small amp and a podium.  A group of
six students called Heritage practiced their songs, and I was not the only
one already wiping tears as they did so.

About 300 people filled the chapel.  Heritage rendered their first acapella
song, "I Will Sing", and Wes Dillon of Milligan read a short eulogy, giving
the  dates of Rich's earthly life and reminding us of what took him from
us.  Then Dr. Bruce Montgomery gave Reflections of Rich.  Dr. Montgomery
was Pastor of Rich's home church in Whitewater, IN when Rich was in his
teens (about 13-17, he said).  

He said Rich would compose beautiful classical music, even at that young
age, but no one would publish it.

One of Rich's favorite things to do was to sit on the corner of the very
organized Dr. Montgomery's desk and rearrange everything on it, just to see
how long it would take Dr. Montgomery to run him out of his office,
sometimes literally dragging him out!

He recalled Rich's first youth sermon - it was going to be simply "Ship up
or shape out" (typical Rich, straight to the point!), but Dr. Montgomery
helped Rich add a little more text to the sermon to take up the allotted
time.  He said he rarely heard Rich sing back then, and when he asked him
recently why he didn't, Rich told him he did not consider himself a good
singer; he didn't then and he still didn't!  Rich was always honest -
always himself.  He was not impressed with himself. 

"Seminary Girl" was the first song Dr. Montgomery knew of Rich writing when
at Cincinnati Bible College.  This was - what else? - a PROTEST of the dorm
hours at the school.  He also composed one entitled "I Write Songs",
rebelling against CBC trying to make a preacher out of him!

Then Dr. Montgomery read a paragraph from an article by John Fischer that
will appear in the November issue of CCM.  I can't recall any of the words,
except, "Goodbye, Rich".

Heritage then sang "If I Stand".  "If I weep, let it be as a man who is
longing for his home".  Rich is longing no more.

The next speaker was Michael Johnson, who has been a friend of Rich's for
ten years.  He and Rich had hitchhiked and driven across the country more
than once together.  He remembered Rich as humble and poor.  He told of
Rich wearing bowling shoes, patched with duct tape. For Rich, he said, a
shopping spree meant a trip to K-Mart to buy $3.00 shoes and package of
V-neck T-shirts!

Even though they were close, Michael was unaware of Rich's position in the
world of Christian music, because it was something Rich never spoke of.
When he asked Rich one time how the music business was going, Michael got
the reply "Okay, but they keep sending me more money!"  This, he said, was
not something Rich was impressed with.  One day when Michael visited Rich
at home (I assumed his mother's home), he was amazed at the room full of
awards and gold records.  He hollered to Rich, "Hey, you're really big
time!"  To which Rich replied "Yeah, you wanna sandwich?" 

Rich was passionate about life, his music, his family, meeting needs, and
being a servant.   Rich Mullins was truly a pastor.

But Rich Mullins was not perfect, he assured us.  For one, he was a bad
motorcycle driver!  And he often alighted from his motorcycle without
putting down the kickstand - proof of the forgetfulness Rich was known for.
 And he reminded us of Rich's humanity in a comment about stinky feet!  It
brought a roar of laughter through our tears.

Mr. Johnson had been at the family visitation at Rich's home church in
Indiana on Thursday.  He now read comments written by Rich's family (at
this point, I listened well but wrote little):

In spite of his faults, Rich Mullins truly understood what God's grace
means - salvation.  He knew he desperately needed God.

He was a relucant performer.  He almost refused to go on his first tour,
with Amy Grant.

Rich was thoroughly complex - but incredibly simple. He was an antagonist
to complacent Christians and all politicians.

But in the end, Rich Mullins will be best remembered for how he LOVED.  His
mission has become his legacy.

Next, Heritage sang "Ready for the Storm".  Then "Elijah" (the old version)
was played, and with the speakers located in the balcony, it sounded as if
Rich were singing to us from Heaven.

After congregational worship with "Step by Step" and "Awesome God", a
soloist sang "Hold Me, Jesus" and closed in prayer.

The crowd filed out silently and returned to a world that will never be the
same.

Yours in Christ,

Jeannie Goins

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