Restoration Stories: Joyce Burton
Written by Angie Parker
From time to time, we want to highlight members of our church and tell some of their story. Today, we’re highlighting Joyce Burton, or Mrs. Joyce, as we lovingly call her.
Joyce Burton and her husband, Tom, founded the congregation that merged with Restoration Church in 2018. A widow since 2014, many in the church think of her as the matriarch, but it’s a designation she doesn’t claim. Even so, she has led the way in adjusting to the changes inherent in becoming a blended church family.
“I think it has gone well. It’s different, but it’s good. There have been a few little bumps here and there, but I’m pleased. A couple of our people weren’t too sure about it, but that’s OK. They’ve all adjusted.
“You know, there are some things that have taken a little adjusting, but I knew from the beginning this is what was supposed to happen. And I knew that Tom would be thrilled with this. I knew where his heart was and I knew he wanted to see the church grow. He loved people and he loved this community.
“Most of us older ones are having to adjust more to the music than anything. We’ve always had a mixture. We like the praise and worship, but a lot of the old hymns can be good praise and worship songs, too. Stephen does a good job.
“Meeting only on Sunday morning took some adjusting, too. We were used to going Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Then all of a sudden we were just going Sunday morning, so it seemed like it took forever to get to next Sunday. Being part of a Small Group has been a challenge for me because I’m the older one, and here’s all the younger ones. I’m 73 years old, and they’re all in their 20s and 30s. That’s just my hang-up. It’s not them. It has taken me a little bit of time to become comfortable, but it’s getting better.
“I love hearing the children running around, and the young people. I will be really pleased when we get a good youth group going. When new families come that have teenagers, it will be good for them to see we’ve got something going for them. They’ll stay. And it’s not going to take five years. I think it’s going to be pretty soon. Once you start a youth group, even if you’ve only got three or four, it’ll take off.
“The merge has been a little bit of freedom for me. I felt very responsible for the church because of Tom. That was my own doing—it wasn’t the Lord. I no longer feel responsible for the church, so it has taken a load off of me. I used to be involved in everything, but now I’m mostly in the food pantry, and on Sunday morning I bring the donuts for the kids and set up the coffee.
“As attendance was going down, even though I didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing this building turned into an office building. I felt responsible for the people and the building. Like I said, God didn’t put it on me, I put it on myself. After Tom passed away, it was really hard to go there, and I thought about leaving. But I knew he would say, “Joyce, you know better.” He wouldn’t want me to leave. So I kept staying, but it was really hard.
“It took some big-time adjusting to get used to another pastor standing in the pulpit. But going from an older pastor to a younger pastor doesn’t bother me because Pastor Matt has a good heart. He and Megan both are good people.”