January 22, 2018

Shortly after the October 17, 1981 beginning of my first pastorate at Saint Martin de Porres Church in Prairie View, Texas, Poindexter came to be a well-known name that formed part of the first bookend of my pastorates. Little did I know that a Poindexter daughter, who had grown up in Fort Worth, Texas, would be part of the other bookend of my final pastorate at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth.

From my June 1, 2006 arrival, among the hundreds of reasons that I found the Faith Community at Our Mother of Mercy Church so pleasant and rewarding for the next nine years, Vandetta Maurice Poindexter King was one of the foremost. This was true right up to my August 14, 2015 departure for Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.

It was apparent from the very beginning that Vandetta King was an old-time religion person, an old-fashioned lady in the best of meanings. As Lionel Richie sang, she was once, twice, three times a lady whom Melvin King, Jr. discovered and soon married in 1956. In fact, I helped them celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary not long after I had arrived at Our Mother of Mercy Church. Their marriage was blessed with seven children, to whom I referred as the Seven Sacraments. The children in turn had their own Seven Sacraments, and will later have Ten Commandments, etc.

But the buildup to that marriage was a huge investment in education, with Vandetta in possession of a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Fisk University, a Master’s degree in Science (Zoology) from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in School Counseling at Texas Women’s University. After more than 25 years of distinguished teaching at three Fort Worth schools, she became a counselor at Van Zandt Guinn Elementary School.

For his part, Melvin King also excelled in the field of education, mirroring in some ways Vandetta’s career in education. Since they both excelled in the field of education, Melvin and Vandetta had much in common and were a natural match that led to equal yoking and a marriage made in heaven.

Since I was still pastoring Our Mother of Mercy Church when Vandetta’s soul mate, Melvin King, Jr., went home to God on November 19, 2012 at the age of 81, I was honored to preside over his homegoing celebration. Right after that celebration,Vandetta charged her brood to have me celebrate her homegoing as well.

Now time had sped by and Vandetta had spent her last Christmas on earth, when Jana King gave me a call, advising me of the peaceful passing of her mother Vandetta on December 28. “And, just as mother ordered us when our father died, we are calling you now, inviting you to come and preside over her services. We will buy a ticket for a suitable flight to get you here Friday and back home Saturday evening.”

I assured her that I would speak to my pastor, Father Lambert, immediately for the requisite permission to fly up for Vandetta’s homegoing services. With my pastor’s permission, Jana purchased an e-ticket for me and emailed it to me.

Stylish and efficient, the 70-seat Embraer E-175 jet made the 80-minute jaunt from Lafayette to DFW very smoothly. Partway through the flight, the sole flight attendant doled out snacks and drinks. As she passed out baby pretzels and biscotti, I eyed them suspiciously, observing that I am a total vegan. She alertly pointed to the small vegan sign on the top edge of the biscuit. Accepting them, I ordered “Tomato juice without ice,” and indulged in the half-guilty pleasure of the tasty snacks.

The Friday evening wake at Our Mother of Mercy Church sported a full house and a grand ceremony from Vandetta’s Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorors who filled about a third of the house and spoke, prayed and sang their hearts out for Vandetta. It was wonderful seeing so many church members turn out to honor and commemorate Vandetta. I also enjoyed visiting with them before and after the wake service.

It was like old times celebrating Vandetta’s homegoing Mass with our usual zest, devotion, inspiration, praying and spirited singing. With a grand sound that seemed even sweeter than usual, our combo/choir outdid itself, featuring Zenobia Collins at the piano, Donald Walker, Jr. at the saxophone, Floyd Ware at the drums,  Carolyn Yusuf, Dorothea Lee, Malinda Walker, Fred Bob and Peter Roehl singing.

Amid all this, Vandetta’s children, Jana King Spring, Yvonne King, Mary King Hollis, Melvina King Barnett, Melvin King, III, Rev. William R. King and Zeb P. King felt the love and honor being given so generously to their mother. What a glorious life and what a beautiful addition to the Communion of Saints in heaven! The Embraer got me home with my half-guilt enjoyment of the tasty biscuits.

“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.”   (1 John 4:16)