On July 30, we will gather as a congregation to celebrate Merry Matlock’s Retirement and thank her for her 22 years of dedicated service to the First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen.
Previously, Merry had retired from a successful 24-year career with Verizon (and all of its predecessor companies) growing from an Administrative Assistant to an Accounts Payable Manager for their Real Estate Division. In 1995, God answered Merry’s prayers literally when she was given the opportunity to retire at the age of 44 allowing her to eliminate the long daily commutes and focus on her volunteer work at the church and the love of her life, her husband Gordon. Gordon and Merry met in NYC in the early 80’s and he actually proposed to her in our very own Narthex in December, 1991; they were married August 8, 1992 and enjoyed 8 more years as newlyweds before cancer took his life July 16, 2000. As Merry worked through her grief, it became clear to Merry, after some prodding from those close to her, that she had a lot to offer as a staff member to the congregation that she was so faithfully serving as a volunteer; so, upon the retirement of Joyce Bashew, Merry joined the FPC staff in 2001 as Administrative Assistant. Merry recognized that her experience with loss had blessed her with deep empathy for those dealing with life’s hardships and illness.
Merry and Gordon officially joined the Church in 1996, and Merry became a Deacon. In 1999, she became an Elder with involvement in the Worship and Music. Her volunteer work included Senior Choir (which she joined before becoming a member), the PW (where she served as Moderator) and the Sanctuary Committee. Merry's beloved mother taught her to knit baby caps to donate to JFK as Merry was caring for Gordon and then dealing with the grief of his passing. Eventually, Merry moved on to knitting prayer shawls which created an entire ministry here at FPC. Knitting brings Merry comfort as she feels her mother's presence and love as she continues to knit a prayer shawl every week.
Over her tenure as Administrative Assistant, Merry supported 7 pastors and 7 associate pastors, each with their own personalities, quirks and talents. As she spoke to me about each pastor, Merry smiled and said "Now, he was special" and then went on to tell me a bit about the impact each had on this church or on Merry herself. Bob Beringer had a gift for remembering each visitor and when they came back he would address them by name as he welcomed them. This is actually what impressed Merry and Gordon so much as they searched for a home church. As for Fred Garry, Merry says he's been a delight although sometimes one has to "fill in the blanks" on details. She describes him as an intellect without intimidation and she loves his sermons as well as his bible studies...oh, and his sense of humor!
In 2021, Merry took on a new part time role with FPC as the Senior Services Coordinator. This new role has been a perfect fit for Merry as well as for our Senior members as they dealt with the isolation that came with the pandemic. She has always loved working with Seniors and it was a natural fit with her empathetic nature. Her comfort came to them in her frequent chats and in letting them talk...and then connecting them with help if needed. She has a compassionate ear and a caring heart - what a wonderful gift.
One thing we don't mention much is the issue of confidentiality that is required of our Church Staff. They know the intimate details of our congregation and are bound to treat that with great care. Merry was the master at this! She handled her position with the utmost of integrity and safeguarded our privacy - without fail.
Merry describes the First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen as her home: Gordon is in the Chapel Garden, the two benches there having been donated by his memorial gifts. The congregation and staff is her family as was proven when her home was robbed and church members showed up to help clean up and the staff banded together to give her jewelry to help replace some of what was taken. What everyone truly gave her was the sense that she was loved and very much not alone.
On the personal side, Merry is a cat lady! Her current buddy is Jasper, and then there's the mechanical cat in her office named Redness (after Merry's Redness that she had for 17 1/2 years)...the CNS kids LOVE visiting Redness as they walk by her office in the Education Building! Merry is looking forward to her retirement! She plans to visit her siblings in North Carolina (her sister) and Maine (her two brothers) and eventually she may move closer to her sister. In the meantime, Merry will remain a member of our congregation and continue as a volunteer. In the past, Merry was a water aerobics instructor and she plans to take that up again!
Merry, on behalf of the Staff, Session, Deacons, Commissions, Committees, and the Congregation, we thank you for your dedication and devotion to our Church family. Enjoy your retirement, go indulge in your beloved Lobster in Maine, get those Seniors moving in the pool... but please keep on knitting those prayer shawls and please keep on singing!