Have you ever gone home after church and wondered if anyone even noticed if you were there or not? In the same way, have you ever stayed home from church or you didn’t feel well, but nobody at church called or even noticed you were missing? If the truth be known, this happens a lot more than most folks realize, but there was an amazing simple solution that changed all that…many years ago at Pleasant Valley SDA Church: It was the Fisher-Murphy Team!!
Al Murphy was a retired business man and Grandma Ina Fisher was a disabled lady at the Pleasant Valley Church, with a burden for jump-starting church attendance and growth. Al had the uncanny ability of looking out over the congregation and noticing who WASN’T there. He stood there in a corner of the sanctuary for a few minutes with his pen and paper during the service, carefully writing down each name. After the service was over, Al walked over to Ina and handed her the list. Then Ina would grab all of the abandoned or left-over church bulletins and go home. Ina wrote a short personal note inside each bulletin, put the mailing addresses on the outside of each bulletin, stapled them shut, put stamps on them, and mailed them all out the next day.
The impact on church attendance and activity levels at Pleasant Valley was nothing less than miraculous!! For us personally, even if we just went camping or were out sick one Sabbath, a stapled bulletin with Ina’s personal note would be in our mailbox a day or two later. We felt we were always noticed, always missed, and having the bulletin right there was a constant reminder to come back the following week. Wow!
Al Murphy and Ina Fisher have long since gone to their rest, but the little team they formed under God’s guidance was a beacon of light that assuredly continued to have an impact on those who attended there for many years afterwards. I still miss seeing those personalized bulletins arrive in the mail if I happened to miss going to church on a Sabbath: it was like clockwork. It was warm and fuzzy, and it was great! That type of ministry needs to be revived again.