The Educator, A Pillar of Hope, The Mother of the Motherless, The Spiritual Mother of St. Thomas Episcopal Church – CJR….
By Rufus S. Berry II, MBA (Your beloved God Brother)
O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end:
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle, if thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway, if Thou will be my guide.
Now the laborer’s task is o’er, Now the battle day is past;
Now upon the father shore Lands the voyager at last:
Father, in thy gracious keeping Leave we now thy servant sleeping
In the Episcopal Church, the vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. The basic responsibilities of the vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the congregation; to support the church’s mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances. In her dedicated service as a member of the vestry for over thirty years at St. Thomas Church, Sis. Mary Brownell set the gold standard for the position. We thank God for her life.
The church is a family. United by the common recognition of Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are all brothers and sisters, and St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Camp Johnson Road has been our home.
Like every human family, our church family is formed and reformed over time: as members are born, others return home to God – in other words – as members are adopted into our family, others leave our congregation for a new home, in a different place. And so, it came to be early this morning at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Sis. Mary Nema Brownell, the Mother of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, the Matriarch of the Brownell family, the Pillar of Hope for our nation, returned home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sis Mary B was a faithful servant of God in her work at St. Thomas Parish, as a faithful member of the vestry with her unselfish, tireless, and devoutly caring manner. She won our love, our respect, our friendship and our admiration, and she was truly our beloved Sister Brownell, Sis Mary B.
What amazing Grace that a Christian soldier such as Sis. Mary B should commit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in her life’s work and in turn receive that unbreakable Blessed Assurance of commitment and reward that Jesus is her.
After having served her beloved St. Thomas Episcopal Church for over sixty years, and the Liberian people as an educator and during our terrible years by the will of God, our dear Ma Mary – Mary B got her wish and went home to heaven early this morning – March 14, 2017, two days after her 88th birthday. By any measure, Mary B was a remarkable woman. She was a hard worker who gladly sacrificed for her family, her church and nation; she had a focused love for God and intolerance for sin. She was a woman of prayer, a woman who understood better than anyone else I know, both the eventual terrors that await the unsaved and the glories of heaven reserved for those who belong to the King of Kings. She loved Christ passionately and has waited with a longing patience for her entrance into the heavenly kingdom.
And what an entrance she will have!
For a time, Sister Mary Neman Brownell lived with us her church family. We have shared with each other good times and bad, we have shared each other’s joys and sorrows, we have lightened each other’s heavy loads. Together we have laughed and cried, together we have worshiped and praised God, together we have lived. On Sunday, the 12th of March 2017 – which also happened to be Mary B’s birthday, with tears pouring from our faces, your beloved St. Thomas family accepted that you were about to walk the Kings Highway.
On that day, we truly celebrated your life. With tears pouring from their faces, your beloved children Miatta and Boakai sung the amazing song – If I can help somebody, as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, If I can show somebody, how they’re travelling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.
Ma Mary’s compassion for humankind transcended immediate family; she cared for the whole human family. Ma Mary was a devoted mother, a tireless worker, and a devoted Anglican that truly upheld the tenets of the Christian faith.
All her life, she answered the call to care for the dispossessed, the hungry, the poor, and the less fortunate Our beloved St. Thomas Episcopal Church is reeling from her loss. She shared her time, her joy, her love, her friendship, her knowledge, her Christian experience, with almost everyone, and she was always approachable. Our beloved Ma Mary truly answered God’s call to all of us. When I was hungry did you feed my children at St Thomas? Her response, yes, when I was thirsty did you give my children at St. Thomas water to drink? Her response, yes, when I was naked did you give my children at St. Thomas clothes to wear? Her response, yes.
May God bless you Sis. Mary Brownell – Mary B – Ma Mary, may he keep you, may he pour his continence upon you, and may he grant your soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest eternal in perfect peace. May you continue to dwell in the house of the Lord Forever! Amen.