If the measure of a community is found in how it takes care of its weakest members, then the community of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary staff, students and their children met the highest standards possible to help one of their own move back home May 19.
On a hot, sunny day, Donald and Julia Moore’s three-bedroom apartment in the J. Howard Williams Memorial Student Village at Southwestern Seminary was alive with dozens of people pulling together to pack up the belongings of Donald, Julia and their five children.
Donald graduated from Southwestern Seminary last December despite fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma since 2002. Recently the cancer worsened, and the Moores moved back to Missouri to be closer to their families. But packing up and loading a three-bedroom campus apartment that had housed the seven-member family for four years loomed as a daunting challenge.
“Donald and Julia are good friends, and we have been praying for them,” Alicia Earle, a seminary staff member, said. “The last thing the Moore family needed to do was worry about moving their belongings.”
Alicia and her husband, Gary, a recent seminary graduate, helped organize fellow Southwesterners with a plan that allowed the Moores to travel home without worrying. A few days after Donald and Julia waved good-bye to the Fort Worth campus, dozens of seminarians packed up the family’s belongings, loaded it all into moving trailers, and cleaned their apartment.
“It’s what being a community is all about,” said James Brown, a diploma of theology student from Illinois, as he stacked boxes into the back of the moving trailer. “Besides that, the Lord expects Christians to do this kind of thing.”
“I would hope someone would do this for me if my family needed it,” added Gary Earle. In all, Earle said more than 70 people pitched in at one time or another, in some way, throughout the week.
Lending their strong backs and youthful energies were boys ranging in age from 9 to 16. They carried boxes and furniture out of the Moore’s old apartment into the 28-foot moving trailer.
“These boys are so impressive,” said Rose McCoy. McCoy, whose son was one of the boys who came from home-schools, is a former president of the Metochai student wives organization on campus. Her husband, Bryan, is a seminary student.
“The boys did an extra day of school work earlier in the week so they could take the day off to help with the move,” she said. “It was a sacrifice for them since most of them are getting ready for statewide honors competitions soon. They have been such a big help and a real blessing.”
Help came from all corners of campus. From the seminary warehouse, Director of Support Services Tom Elliott and his crew contributed their backs, some furniture dollies, moving boxes, tape and packing materials. Teams of cleaners, movers and other helpers came in shifts from the seminary Physical Plant.
Campus security erected traffic cones and blocked off the street in front of the Moore’s apartment to provide safe access to the moving truck. Hudson Babler, the son of Professor of Pastoral Counseling John Babler, helped prepare Donald’s motorcycle for shipping.
A group of Korean students and their families rallied around packing, loading and otherwise helping carry the load.
“We were all here to do the things Donald and Julia needed us to do,” Gary Earle said.
Tamara Latham, the current president of Metochai, had organized a table offering cold drinks and snacks to the volunteers. Rocky Freeman encouraged the workers to stay hydrated in the heat, and helped keep the cooler stocked. Rocky and his wife, Marcia, are from Oklahoma City; he graduated from Southwestern Seminary with a master’s degree in Christian education this spring.
“Donald and I met during new student orientation four years ago,” Freeman said. “We have babysat their children when Donald and Julia had to go for his therapy. They are just good, good people.”
“I enjoyed the family and they touched my heart,” said Christina Prickett, a volunteer who came from Cana Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas.
Some of the volunteers did not even know the Moore family personally. Cleaning the oven and shining up the kitchen were Dennis and Linda Bishop and June Rogers, members of Normandale Baptist Church in White Settlement, Texas. They heard about the Moores and their moving needs through the Earles—who also attend that church—but had never met them.
“We are just happy to be able to help out,” Linda said.
“Every little bit helps,” Dennis said.
Adding their “every little bit” with organizing the moving day activities were Bob Raybould, Dennis and Drewcilla Griffiths, Mike Watson and Josh Minor.“We are pleased to see the seminary family rally around the Moore family,” Southwestern Seminary Director of Housing Phil Copeland said. “It’s a fine testimony to Donald, his family, and the community that surrounds him. For me, it’s been an honor to be part of the process of their pilgrimage. We pray for his healing and for God’s grace on his family. Helping hands are a Christian way of saying, ‘We love you.’”