Summary: Funeral service for Alberta Perry Faulkner, the mainstay of the church's missions support efforts and a world traveler, nurse, teacher, Scout leader, senior citizen sponsor.
I had my car repaired not long ago. It took about as long to check out at the cashier’s desk as it did for the mechanics to do the work, because at the desk I had to sign several forms, initial a couple of others, present my credit card and sign the charge slip, and then wait for the clerk to retrieve the keys that were hanging on the wall. Lots of procedures to take care of; when it was over, she said, "I think you are finally ‘good to go.’"
I’m hearing that phrase more and more these days: "Good to go". In an era when doing business involves standing in lines and filling out forms and signing documents and retrieving the items you came for, you are never sure you are actually finished until someone says, "Good to go." It’s a phrase that tells us we have done what we need to do and can finally be on our way.
For followers of Christ who come to the end of their days, that phrase has a special meaning. When the labors of life are over; when our bodies need rest and our spirits need repair; when the physicians have finished and the hospitals cannot help us – how fine it would be to hear, deep in our souls, "Good to go." Brother, sister, you have done well; you have finished your work; you have done all that is required. You are good to go.
Good to go, with the emphasis on "go." Alberta Faulkner was just about the goingest person I know. The obituary tells you a little bit about that – all fifty states and sixteen countries. But there is no list of all the church meetings, the expeditions, the Scout camping trips, the missions gatherings, the band sponsorship journeys, and all the rest of it. Alberta Faulkner knew what it was to go, go, go, and never apparently to be tired.
But make no mistake. It was not just about going for the sake of going; it had a meaning. It was not just about moving around restlessly; for Alberta, the travel had significance. It was about who she was; it was about what mattered to her; it was about mission, God’s mission.
I began my work at Takoma Park Baptist Church in the summer of 1984, serving as interim pastor while I was on the staff of the D. C. Baptist Convention. One of my colleagues at the Convention was Gloria Grogan, who said to me, "You’re going to Takoma Park. You must meet the Faulkners. Robert and Alberta, they are such good Christians." So I came to preach at Takoma Park, but met no Faulkners. I led some midweek prayer meetings at Takoma Park, but found no Faulkners. I attended a deacons’ meeting, and no one there was named Faulkner. Nowhere to be found; so back at the office I said to Gloria, "I’m afraid these folks are not such good Christians as you think they are. They have not been to anything at the church for several weeks. I have still not met them." How chagrined I was when I found out why: Alberta and Robert had given away their entire summer to serve as volunteer staff members at the American Baptist Assembly in Greek Lake, Wisconsin! I had defined "good Christian" as someone who stays at home and comes to church every time the doors open; Alberta and Bob had discovered that good Christians do not come. They go. They go where they are needed. They go on mission. They are good to go.
And so I think of the Great Commission as Alberta Faulkner’s life theme. I understand Alberta’s life as a fulfillment of what our Lord said to us in His last moments on earth. I know of no one who has heard His word more clearly and has endeavored to follow it more closely than Alberta Perry Faulkner.
The first word in the Great Commission is "go." "Go," says the Lord. But it is not just a touristy "go," it is not just a gadabout "go." "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …" Making disciples of all nations was Alberta Faulkner’s abiding passion. Alberta would go to Baptist Women’s Council meetings, she would go to Baptist World Alliance conferences, she would go to American Baptist gatherings – in fact, she served on the American Baptist General Board, which is concerned with sponsoring missions work. Wherever it was she needed to go for the cause of making disciples of all nations, Alberta would go.
And, more than that, Alberta would take you along with her if you would let her. How many of the ladies of Takoma Park Baptist Church found themselves in meetings of something called "Church Women United" because Alberta Faulkner got them to go? For that matter, how many of the men of that church found themselves in meetings of D. C. Baptist Women? Because, for Alberta, it did not matter whether you were male or female, old or young, black or white, Baptist or something else – what mattered was that you learned about missions, participated in missions, gave to missions.