Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


My Dear Friends,

Our son, Zachary, died unexpectedly this past Thursday, June 28th.   We are devastated.  We are also held and sustained by the love of family, friends, church members from the congregations with whom we have shared ministry, laughter and tears, and beloved people from all over the country.  

Here is his obituary and his memory page

I haven't had an opportunity to respond or even to read all of the e-mails and facebook comments and messages or even texts and calls.  But I will.  Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers.   We can feel it.   By grace, faith, love, and hope we will survive.

My sister, Molly, my brother, Gordo and his wife Vickey, their daughter Janelle and their grandsons, Brett, and Hunter were with Bev, Katy, and I as we said goodbye at the funeral home.   It was so good to have my family here.    More family will be coming.

We cremated his body today.    We will have a service to celebrate his life on Sunday July 15th at 2:30 at First Presbyterian Church, Elizabethton, Tennessee.  We are grateful for this congregation. 

Also we are grateful that for our beloved Zach his pain has ended even as ours is just beginning.

In the meantime, please light a candle for Tom and Michelle.  On Thursday Cooper, Zach's newest cousin, will come into the world.    


  1. Oh, John...there simply are no words...

    I will be holding all of you in prayer. May the Holy Spirit wrap her wings around you and bring you comfort and strength. And may Zach rest in peace and rise in glory.


  2. John, my heart goes out to you and your family.

  3. Peace and comfort to all who know Zach, and especially those who love him as dearly as you do. May you continued to be surrounded by the love and support of those around you, as well as the love God continues to hold for you.

  4. Your writing and preaching communicate a vision of the peace and love that comes from God; and I hope that will now surround you and your family in this difficult time.

  5. John,

    My heart breaks with you all. I just can't imagine the level of pain you all must be suffering.

    May the hope that is Christ sustain you and the presence of the Comforter carry you and all who knew John.

  6. No words John, simply prayers for comfort and peace to you and your family.

  7. Dear John,

    I have read you you off and and for quite some time, and left a message over at PC(USA) Bloggers; no idea if you might see that.

    At any rate, I want to say that we lost one of our 24yo sons nearly four years ago. The searing pain that you are enduring right now is, I know, beyond comprehension or description. You and your family are much in my prayers. Thanks be to God for your beautiful Zach.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family.

  9. John,

    I am so sorry to hear of your unspeakable loss. There is really no greater pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


  10. John and family
    Holding you all in prayer in your pain and grief. May the love of God surround you in human form in this heartbreaking time.

  11. my prayers go out to you and your family, John.

  12. John, praying for you and all who love you and Zachary.

  13. I'm very sorry for your loss. Holding you in the light.

  14. Prayers for you, your family, and who knew and love Zachary.

  15. Just heard this unspeakably sad news and wanted to send you a big hug and add my sympathies and prayers for comfort and peace for you and all who knew Zachary.

  16. John,
    My heart is breaking for you and your family. Please know we are lifting you up in prayer and will continue to pray for you in the weeks and months ahead.
    May God surround you with His grace so you might grieve well.
    Yours in Christ,
    Rob McClelland

  17. May Zachary rest in peace, and rise in glory. BELIEVE that you will be together again, eternally, in God's Holy and Loving Light.

  18. I am so sorry. You, your family, and your beloved son Zach are all in my prayers.

  19. I am so very sorry for your terrible loss. My prayers are with you and your family. May you continue to be supported by the faithfulness of God and the love of your community.

  20. I am so sorry to hear--belatedly--this sad news. You and your family will be in my daily prayers for strength to get through each day.

  21. Thank you all so much for your kindness and concern...

  22. Dear John and family,
    I just heard today about Zach. John, as a pastor you know how hard it is sometimes to find the right words. I have also lost a child and found that words don't come close to what is needed. I would hug you if I were there. I would wrap you all in all the love I hold. Know that although you left Billings you have never been forgotten.
    In God's peace and grace,
    Kay Carlson

  23. I am finally getting to respond to some of these beautiful comments. I want to say just a little to each of you because it is so important to know we don't go this alone.

    @Doxy Pax to you, my friend. Thank you.

    @Martha thank you for your heart.

    @Cindi thank you for that kind blessing.

    @Michael thank you for your kind words.

    @Jack thank you for your hope...

    @grace, blessings...

    @Robin I am so grateful that you reached out and share your story. Blessings to you and thank you for your prayers.

    @Purple Thanks!

    @earthchick Thank you...

    @Jodie thanks for being there all along blog friend!

    @Celeste thank you for your prayers

    @Michelle thank you for your prayers

    @Diane thank you for prayer

    @Mary Beth thank you for your prayers

    @Joolie we need the light...

    @Pastor Julia Love the prayers

    @Riled Thanks for the hugs!

    @Ann thank you...

    @Rob thank you

    @JCF thank you

    @Betsy thank you

    @Nancy thank you

    @Mac thank you

    @Kay thank you, Kay. So nice to hear from you and from all our good friends in Billings...