‘You’ve got to get out to give back’

It’s “Graduates’ Sunday” at the local church and the preacher is delivering the annual sermon dedicated to honor recent high school graduates of the church. This peculiar preacher has focused the entire message upon two salient points: 1)  “You’ve got to get out of here” and 2) “In five years I will write you a letter asking for $5,000.00 for this church.” Each of the two points brings a mixture of laughter and applause from the congregation, while the graduates grin in astonishment.

What is the basis for these two (whacky) assertions? How can he justify including this in a sermon? Who is he to tell them what to do? In these times of an unsure job market and increasing student loan debt, who is he to place even more burden on these graduates?

I am a 1981 graduate of Washington and Lee High School. In the 31 years since I graduated high school, I have observed that annually as many as 85 percent of graduates of the local high schools leave the area within 90 days of graduation. I am among the minority who decided to stay here. In a 30 day period in 2007, I was elected both Pastor of a local church and Westmoreland County School Board Member (district one). In the following year I recognized two philosophically similar observations regarding the budget, yet they came from separate entities. Senior church members were quietly grumbling about the disproportionate funding for the youth budget. After all, the little darlings drop only token change in the offering plate, yet the church invests a significant chunk of the budget into funding their recreation. The justification for this is: “They are the church of tomorrow.” Even more subtly the grumble includes, “How can they be “the church of tomorrow, when most of them will flee the ‘Neck’ immediately upon graduation.?”

Meanwhile senior taxpayers grumble a wee bit as the local share of the school board budget heads steadily toward $10,000,000.00, and that doesn’t even include building new schools. The taxpayers tighten their belts and annually do their part, but many lament that it is some price to pay in exchange for a graduating class dominated by students who wish to live anywhere but here.

I found the concerns of the church and those of the citizens of my district to be identical. In the church we have a proposed solution: Invest our youth in a Christian education and character development which promotes success wherever they go. The bold graduation sermon is then a mere placement of expectations upon the youth in whom the entire church is invested. Perhaps the stakeholders in the public education of our youth can capture a similar solution to increase the return on investment from students who leave the area similar to what we demand of those who remain.

Gernard Reed


The Reverend Gernard E. Reed is pastor of the Mulberry Baptist Church, Emmerton, and currently School Board Member at-large in Westmoreland County. He is the former District One Representative on the School Board.


What’s your ‘Biggest Gripe’?

Considering the annual poll that is taken to determine “The Best…on the Northern Neck,” it occurred to me that you should also include a category for “The Biggest Gripe.”  I believe the results would be interesting and possibly helpful. As a starter, I would like to suggest that my biggest gripe deals with the slugs that will not return grocery carts to either the slots for them or to the front of the store, but rather leave them in parking slots. It is really maddening to approach what appears to be an open slot, only to find one or more carts occupying it. The thoughtlessness of some people is astounding.

The absurd traffic pattern at the Montross traffic light should also get an honorable mention.

Marion Dongieux

Mount Holly

Supper supports

The Kilmarnock United Methodist Men’s spaghetti supper last Thursday was again a success. We thank the friends in the community who came by on a cold evening to savor the meal prepared by the men, the desserts prepared by the women, and to enjoy the company. We also thank the many businesses throughout the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula who supported our efforts. The funds collected for this event will go toward supporting worthwhile activities in the community and the church.

KUMC Men’s Fellowship


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