A Note From Peter

May 25, 2020

Cyndy and Peter at Christmas 2019

Last week someone in our congregation said to me, “Peter, I’m so happy for your marriage to Cyndy.  She sounds like a wonderful person, and it sure is nice to have some good news in the midst of all the bad news we’ve been living through with Covid-19.”  I couldn’t agree more!  Cyndy Hardwick (now Cyndy Barnes) has brought so much good news and joy into my life, and I look forward to you, my church family, getting to know her.

Cyndy was an Air Force brat growing up, and she’s lived in a lot of places.  Her dad was a pilot and later headed up the aircraft maintenance crews of a military base, so they moved around a good bit.  She was conceived in Copenhagen, born in Ardmore, OK, spent elementary school in Eureux, France, her middle school years in the Newport News, VA, area, and graduated from high school in Satellite Beach, FL.  Cyndy had a 10-year career in business with IBM and E.F. Hutton before joining the staff of her church, Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington, WV, a 1,200 member American Baptist Church.  She began as the Director of Youth Ministry and later headed up the Missions Department and Ministry to Young Adults.  She also did a stint as the Director of the day care center of her church which provided care for 165 children.  Along the way she completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, and after serving her church for 20 years, she was hired as a non-ordained Chaplain at the regional hospital where she lived.  When Cyndy and I met she was working for a hospice in Roanoke, VA, to where she moved two years ago, as the Director of Volunteer Services.  As you can see, Cyndy has a wide range of gifts and experiences in ministry, and we’ve already discovered we are great partners in ministry together.

People have asked how this romance came about.  After we learned of each other last May, we started to correspond by email for about two months before we actually met.  You may recall that I was heading out on my sabbatical last summer, and I spent most of June and July out West attending conferences, taking classes at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and visiting family and friends.  Cyndy and I finally met for our first date at the end of July, and we slowly explored a relationship that was centered on Christ.  Over time we fell in love, and it became clear that God was calling us to marriage.  And on Sunday, May 24th, we exchanged our vows and were united in marriage by my friend Rev. Allan Poole who drove over from Durham to officiate the small ceremony.  Many of you tuned in for the livestream of the service along with our families and friends from around the country.  The plans for a small family wedding got even smaller because of Covid-19!

A bit about Cyndy’s family.  She lost her husband of 30 years, Bob Hardwick, to cancer about 8 months after Lorie passed away.  So we have a similar story of having had a long and happy marriage followed by the devastation of deep loss.  She has four sons and four grandchildren, and all of them live in either Virginia or North Carolina.  So between us we have seven sons and eight grandchildren.

You have been a wonderful congregation as you have cared for me through Lorie’s illness and death as well as walking with me on my journey through widowhood.  I’m so grateful for your prayers and support through this whole experience the past 3 ½ years.  By God’s grace I have been allowed to find a partner again who loves Jesus, His people, the Scriptures, and life!  It is a miracle to behold, and I am humbled at God’s provision.  I have found that my heart has enlarged to make room for a new and deep love, and I am head-over-heels in love with Cyndy Barnes.  I know that when you get to know her, you will be too.  I hope you will welcome Cyndy into our church family whenever we are able to gather together again after the pandemic has subsided.  May God bless each of us as we seek to keep our eyes on Jesus and we walk into a future that is not fully known trusting that Christ is with us and He will make a way.  He certainly has made a wonderful way for me.