The number of prayers being made has greatly diminished this week. Monty Montgomery is no longer here doing his part.
For years, Monty has been lifting up the people of this community in prayer on a daily basis. He prayed specifically for individuals and groups of people. I’d guess that at times he even prayed for me. He was that kind of a fellow.
Monty was a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church and passed away this week at the age of 86. Two features immediately caught one’s attention when meeting Monty – his shiny, bald head and his warm smile. And before long, it would also become abundantly clear that he had a deep faith that he was more than willing to share.
In many ways, Monty was an unpaid member of the church’s staff. He paid visits to church members in the hospital, regularly went to local nursing homes and always took with him his prayers, songs, scripture and testimony to uplift those that he met.
Did I mention that Monty prayed a lot? When the confirmation class for St. John’s was formed each year, Monty prayed for the class and each member by name every day. And the confirmation class members were far from the only ones that he treated like this. Other people who Monty felt needed to be lifted up to God got the same treatment.
I have the feeling that when Monty spoke, God listened. Our minister, Dr. George Howle, tells of his first time in the pulpit at St. John’s as the new associate pastor. Prior to the service, the nervous young minister met Monty, who told him that he and a group of men would be in the chapel praying for George during the service. The young pastor said that soon afterward, all of his anxiety about preaching to the new congregation disappeared.
Others tell stories about Monty at nursing homes singing “Jesus Loves Me” to those he met with on a regular basis. Even those who were not responsive most of the time perked up at the sound of that old familiar tune and even sang along.
Monty was a saint during his life here, and now he is among the saints in heaven.
Every church, I suspect, has a Monty or two. They are the ones who live their Christianity every day, not just on Sundays. They quietly care for others, always diverting attention from themselves and pushing it toward God.
And when the Montys of this world depart, others must step forward and take the reins to become that kind of person. Every generation has Montys to emulate. They are the ones who perpetuate the faith and keep it alive for others.
Monty served his God well during his years on Earth. Now he is at home with the one he worshiped. Monty, thanks for sharing a life of faith.
Jeff Wallace is the retired editor of the Aiken Standard.