Paul Henry Carr, Ph.D.
Memorial Congregational Church, Enosburg Center, VT
Homecoming Sunday, 27 July 1997

It is pleasure to be here to day to remember my father, Rev. Auburn Jewett Carr; A. B., A.M., S.T.B; and my own childhood memories of his Green Mountain Parish.

Psalm 121:
"I lift my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth."

Perhaps this scripture gave my father the strength and courage to undertake a parish of six country churches in 1943, the middle of World War II.


"My mother, a Hardwick,VT farmer’s wife, used to write a verse from the Bible each day in her diary. She made or wrote no comment on it. My brother, Elmer, once said that this practice enabled her to survive and keep going.

The hills declare the way of God. They form the scenery of memory and imagination. They structure the ascent and upward trend of experience. In childhood, wonder and mystery arises as to what lies beyond the horizons of the hills and mountains. In village, valley, field, and city, they provide the upward look."

My first memory of mountain poetry was the verse from the hymn

"All Things Bright and Beautiful;"
"The purple headed mountain, The river running by…"
I remember my Aunt Laura teaching this to us during Junior Church in Richford, when we children could go downstairs during the sermon. I liked to do this. In my childhood sermons were: "words, words, and words" that had no meaning. I would sit on one side of my Mother, who hung on every word, and my little sister, Audrey, would be on the other. If Audrey and I sat beside each other, there would usually be trouble.

One of the gifts of my growing-up was being able to understand the sermon. I can remember Rev. Viola Moore’s sermon in 1943, when I was eight, and thinking to myself that she was a better preacher than her husband, Rev. Robert Moore. (I am embarrassed to say this, as my father said: "Comparisons are odious.") The Moores were the first associate pastors of the Green Mountain Parish. They arrived with their adopted son, Henry, who was about my age and not the easiest for me to get along with.

The Green Mountain parish started in 1943, in the middle of World War II. Dad would corresponded with our men in the military service. This was the basis of his newspaper column: COMMUNICATION FROM THE HOMEFRONT in Richford’s Journal-Gazette. He wanted to extend this involvement by becoming a chaplain in the military. When the District Superintendent could not afford to lose him due to the minister shortage, Dad founded the Green Mountain Parish. This consisted of six churches: Methodist in Richford and Montgomery; Congregational in Enosburgh Center, Berkshire Center, and East Berkshire; and Baptist in Montgomery Center. The last was a mill-town before the Jay Peak Ski Area was developed. Preaching at three services was ambitious, as I learned from the few times that Audrey and I were taken to all three services on one Sunday. It was good that there were no radar speed-detectors in those days. Dad would sometime set speed records on the dirt roads so as not to be late for the next service. This might have been his inspiration for the following story he liked to tell.

Saturday evening there had been a severe ice storm. On Sunday morning, the roads were so glazed with ice that the pastor skated to church. The church service went smoothly. However, after church, the Elders held a meeting to deal with the problem that skating was forbidden on Sunday. In those days, one could only to go to church and to read the Bible on Sunday. It was a real dilemma, as the minister would not have made it to church on time without skating. Finally, one of the elders, asked the minister the key question:

"Well, did you enjoy it???"
Rev. Harry Lindley followed the Moores as Associate Minister of the Green Mountain Parish. I remember Rev. Lindley as having a slight english accent. Dad liked to tell about the time he and Rev. Lindley were out calling on people here in Enosburgh Center. He called Fern Perley and said: "Harry and I are out doing calls. We expect to be in your neighborhood around noon-time and were wondering if we should have lunch down in Enosburgh Falls.

To this Fern Replied: "Why you come right up here!"

I am sure that that Dad got a much better meal then he would have had at a restaurant. Some of the best food that I ever ate was at Lloyd Chafee’s farm, where I worked in his sugar-bush during my spring school vacation.

Rev. Leighton R. Richardson was our next Associate Pastor. He had a special gift for leading Boy Scout Troops, of which I was an enthusiastic member. One of my regrets on leaving Richford in 1949 to attend Boston Latin School was that I was no longer a member of his Boy Scout Troop. I returned the next summer to Richford and spent time canoeing on Lake Carmi and climbing the Pinnacle. I wrote the following mountain poetry as an English assignment to write a sonnet.

Boston Latin School English Assignment, 1951
To the top of the mountain one day I did go,
For the see all the scenes that a summit can show.
For the work and the toil up the long yet small trail,
The perspective was fine where good views do prevail.
To the right to the left, all around from the heights,
Are the things which make wonderful, colorful sights:
The small farm-house and barn, the big mill in the town,
They do all have a place as the climber looks down.
 The small ponds, like some emeralds clear,
Are all scattered about, like dew-drops so sheer.
The big lake, like a sheet of the clearest of glass,
Which is blue as the sky that does over us pass.
If immense and important or tiny and small,
The Great God has a place in the world for us all.

During these Green-Mountain-Parish years, my mother, Sylvia Holzer Carr, was very active as the Supervisor of Music in the Richford Schools, as an organizer and director of church musical variety shows and minstrels, and as the director of the Richford Methodist Church Choirs. My first memory of Handel’s Messiah with its magnificent "Hallelujah Chorus" was the performance she directed at our Methodist Church in Richford. I have since heard the same Handel’s Messiah flawlessly performed in Boston’s Symphony Hall. There is nevertheless something very special about performances of these great works by communities of faith, those who really believe and live out what they are singing.

Our Psalm 121 continues: "He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

Dad’s interpretation: "What happens to the nation in which I live and where I am an citizen constitutes a big factor in my life. More and more the condition of my country involves its relation to all nations. This brings the recognition that the entire course of history can be understood as the Kingdom of God. He keeps wide awake to the whole situation of each individual and of all individuals. They can be truly understood only in relation to him.

At no time does the call to him not register. He is neither ignorant of nor unresponsive to any and all who turn to him. He is neither ‘asleep on the job’ or ‘asleep on the switch.’ Everyone has access to his ‘hot line.’"

God’s presence and love is always there for us, no matter what happens.

"He who keeps Israel" reminds me how inspired Dad was when he returned from his pilgrimage to Israel in 1959. Having visited there myself last March, I had an opportunity to see why. Dad was particularly inspired by the Lake of Galilee and its environs, which was the scene of Jesus’ ministry. The Lake of Galilee is surrounded by mountains like most of our lakes in Vermont. In fact, "Galilee" comes from a Hebrew word which means "waves." The mountain ranges and valleys of Galilee can be visualized as "waves" of land mass. Winds can flow unimpeded along these valleys, and are the cause of sudden storms which today come up on the Lake of Galilee, as they did in the time of Jesus. The mountains of Galilee are mostly rounded like the Pinnacle and other mountains in Vermont. Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, is on a mountainside. Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum on the See of Galilee, where he healed Peter’s mother-in-law and preached in the synagogue. At the Mount of the Beatitudes near Capernaum, I could envision Jesus teaching the crowds from the steep hillsides that form a natural amphitheater above the lake. As I saw abundant fields of yellow mustard blowing in the wind, I could hear Jesus saying (Math. 6:28:) "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The climax of our Pilgrimage was a communion service held among the blooming flowers and shrubs of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, which is a beautiful setting for the resurrection stories we commemorate at Easter. The Bible Stories seemed more real than they ever did before.

"The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
"The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore."
I can say that the Lord was indeed present at Dad’s "going out" at the Carney, a Roman Catholic Hospital in Boston, where he died from a massive embolism on December 31, 1984. As he was dying, I told his doctors that he believed in the life eternal. I went to the hospital chapel, which had sayings from Jesus’ ministry on the walls. As I was mediating there, I saw the late-afternoon-sun through yellow-frosted-glass walls. I had a vision of Dad being lifted up to heaven, surrounded by Jesus and the prophets. This visualized my belief that in death our lives are transformed to new dimensions of light and beauty.

It has been a pleasure sharing with you my childhood impressions and boyhood memories of the Green Mountain Parish. It may be appropriate to conclude with these words of Paul (I Cor. 13:11-12):

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood."

"Thank you God for all the things you have given us.
Thank you God for all the things you have taken from us.
Thank you God for all the things we still have with us."

Thank you God for all the things you have given us. We thank you God for the gift of life itself with its abundance which overflows in the summertime. Thank you for the gift of family, friends, and for taking care of our needs.

Thank you God for the things and the loved ones that we no longer have with us. As we meditate on the bareness of winter, we are thankful for the enrichment and fulfillment of having had them. As Paul said: (II Cor.7:2)

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies."

Thank you God for all the things we still have with us.
May we live fully in the present and savor each moment of our lives. May we fully participate in that which is eternal, the "eternal now." AMEN