Transfer week is over and I have a few minutes this morning and felt I needed to let the returned missionaries who have served in Milledgeville know about Brother Webb. He passed away on Valentines' Day from a heart attack at age 59. We were so saddened. Brother Webb was the high councilman over missionary work in the Macon Stake. He was a people magnet and loved by all those who knew him. He lived missionary work. He could have written a book on how to share the gospel. He was also very involved in family history and temple work. On February 5, he gave what became his final talk in a church setting. He spoke to the Macon Zone at Zone Conference. What a blessing for the missionaries to hear him speak of the importance of the work they are doing.
President and I were able to attend his funeral Monday which was Presidents' Day. One of his sons said he must have chosen Valentines' Day and Presidents' Day because he loved his wife and he loved his country. His family decided they wanted to have a missionary funeral, and it was incredible. Elder Corbridge and Elder Teare offered the prayers. Brother Nathaniel Balckom, who serves as a councilor in the bishopric, gave the life sketch. Marcus and Michael, his sons, spoke about how family was their dad's first priority, and how his life changed after joining the church. Then Bishop Jared Johnson taught the Plan of Salvation within the context of family. It was a missionary funeral.
Let me share just a couple of points made by the speakers. Brother Balckom talked about a day, shortly after his baptism, when he had slipped back as far as keeping the commandments go. He was out on his porch smoking when Brother Webb pulled up in his car. Brother Balckom didn't know Brother Webb very well, only that he was a member of the church. Brother Balckom tried to hide the cigarette. (He said at that time he thought the Word of Wisdom was a suggestion, not a commandment.) Anyway, in order to save his fingers from getting burned he had to drop the cigarette and put it out. Of course, Brother Webb saw it, but all he said was, "Brother Balckom, you come to church with me." That was the beginning of a great friendship and renewed activity for Brother Balckom. There was no judging, just support and love. I might add that Brother Balckom has been at every baptism I've attended in Milledgeville. He is a great person who is continuing Brother Webb's legacy of support and love.
Bishop Johnson told the congregation (the chapel and cultural hall were filled, many were non-members) that as bishop he had the responsibility to teach his ward members the doctrine, and he did so on occassion. He said every time he taught, Brother Webb would thank him afterwards for feeding them, and he always asked Bishop Johnson to feed them more often. The Bishop looked out over the congregation and said, "Brother Webb got you all here today, and now I'm going to feed you, because that is what he would expect me to do." The Bishop then gave a powerful lesson on the Plan of Salvation with family as the focal point. All I could think of during Bishop Johnson's talk was that I am so grateful for family and for The Plan of Salvation. Since the funeral I've been more conscious of my blessings and the need to help others know what their options are. May we all judge less and support more. And thank you, Brother Webb, for teaching us all.