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Praying with Pictures

Next month, the state of Ohio will mint a new resident, but the bloodline will be familiar. Marcia Perry is moving from her longtime northside Richmond digs to Oxford, Ohio. While she is a native of Miami and spent the bulk of her childhood in Macon, Marcia is the daughter of a Kemper - her mother's family name. One ancestor was a Presbyterian circuit rider and his long cabin continues to stand in a city park.

Many of us know Marcia through her photographs of life at GPPC, in which she so often seems to capture a moment of grace and light or perhaps the soul of an event. Her mother owned a camera, piquing Marcia’s interest at an early age. By the time she was a teenager, she had a camera of her own and experimented taking shots through a magnifying glass. She took pictures through college – but no photography courses until much later. Marcia developed a technique she calls “transfer pictures”, in which she Xeroxes a color photo and transfers it to acid-free paper. Her work has won prizes and exhibited in several states. She says taking a picture is a form of prayer.

Marcia spent many years as a student! In her undergraduate time at Georgia State, she made friends with the director of the campus YWCA, a woman named Izzy Rogers. That they remained lifelong friends was perhaps fortuitous for GPPC, as Izzy was the only person Marcia knew in Richmond prior to moving here. In the meantime, she attended Drew Seminary for a year and thought hard about a missionary career. Ultimately, she leaned back toward academics, receiving an advanced degree in Math Education from Florida State and her doctorate in Statistics, Measurement, and Evaluation from U of Georgia.

We do not have an exact job count for this article, but Marcia has taught at no fewer than five colleges and universities in Florida, Georgia, and New Hampshire. Sandwiched in there somewhere was a stint as YWCA liaison between local campuses and the national Y office – her territory covered Virginia to Texas! Marcia once traveled to an all black college in South Carolina to give her standard presentation, and realized after she’d left the podium she’d been scheduled in the midst of activities for Black Awareness Week.

Influenced by her Methodist grandmother, Marcia eventually joined a Methodist church in Macon after attending Baptist churches as well. In 1992, she moved to Richmond to begin work with the Virginia Department of Education, developing math and science tests for public schools. She visited a number of Methodist congregations in search of a new church home, but was drawn to GPPC by the Peace Forum – a social justice awareness group that met for many years during the Sunday School hour. After five years as a “visitor”, she decided to join – and lean in. She has served on the Session, as a longtime member of the Care Committee, volunteered with RISC and the Micah project, helped with CARITAS, and prepared Communion. Of course, many of us first think of the blessings that come from her passion for photography and capturing images of our GPPC community.

We are grateful for Marcia’s quiet ministry among us, and will certainly miss her steady presence. With no immediate relatives, she considers GPPC to be her family. We hope she finds good and plentiful reasons for making visits “home”.

Jean Bear and Alfred Walker

All photos by Marcia Perry, except the one with her mother

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