Oct 20 2012

Celebrating my Husband’s Life and Legacy…Part 1

Me with our children following Will’s Celebration of Life Service

Over the past few weeks, I have been preparing for a very special opportunity to celebrate the life of my husband, Will. Due to the fact that no one was sure when our boys and I would be discharged from hospitals and able to attend his funeral…Will’s parents and his family who were able to attend, had a private funeral and burial one week after the tragic accident that sent Will home to heaven. It was five weeks before we were all three finally discharged from the last of the rehab hospitals and able to go home. It was very painful to not be able to be there for that important part of his journey, but I am so grateful that we had the time we needed to physically heal enough to really celebrate this very, special man’s life and legacy.

I wanted to give all of you a glimpse into the service that I planned with the wonderful help of our daughter, Annelyse (age 17), Josh (age 9), dear friends and wonderful pastor friends of Will, his family, and the amazing team at Memorial Chapels so that you can celebrate with us.  I am going to do this in a two-part series.  In this first one I would like to share with you two of the beautiful tributes to Will’s life and legacy.

Here is the tribute/obituary that a wonderful woman at Memorial Chapels wrote after talking with me about his life…

Rev. William Lawrence Pershing, son of John and Virginia (Shepherd) Pershing, was born May 20, 1967 in Casa Grande, Arizona. He went home to be with his Lord Sunday, July 15, 2012 due to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.

As a young boy, Will made a very important decision in his life and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and was baptized. He continued to follow the Lord throughout his life and his main passion in life was to share the gospel all over the world.

Will spent most of his growing up years in Arizona and New Mexico. He graduated from Silver City High School in Silver City, New Mexico. To further his education, Will obtained his Music Performance Degree from Western New Mexico University of Silver City (Class of 1990), with post-graduate study in Biblical Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky (Class of 1990), and Bible and Music at Arizona College of the Bible (Class of 1991) and Music Education and Education at Western New Mexico University of Silver City (Class of 1993).

Will taught music, band and choral classes in Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri. Will served as an Associate / Music Pastor for several churches. He loved teaching and even after becoming disabled due to a longtime illness, he continued teaching private music lessons and composing music.

Will loved to help people and churches. He worked for a time as a counselor at the Southeast Missouri Behavioral Health Center in Salem, Missouri. Will also designed websites for churches and encouraged them to use the technology of social media for outreach purposes.

Will loved to read and study God’s word and was always sharing the Gospel with anyone that he came in contact with in person and on-line, especially those who were overlooked by the churches. One of the ways he did that was through freelance writing and blogging at willpershing.net. Will had a passion for his family and enjoyed spending as much time as possible with his wife and kids. He had the ability to make people laugh even in the toughest of situations. In his spare time, he enjoyed fishing with family and friends. He was an active member of Promise Keepers and Navigators.

On April 10, 2010, Will was united in marriage to the love of his life, Mary, in Hannibal, Missouri. They shared over two years together and many wonderful memories.

Will leaves to cherish his memory and his legacy, his loving wife Mary of the home; two sons: Joshua and Michael of the home (**for those reading this on my blog, Will considered the boys his sons as the rest of his family, me, the boys, and Annelyse do, even though they are from my previous marriage) ; one daughter Annelyse Pershing of Bunker, MO (from his previous marriage to Janis Pershing); his parents John and Virginia Pershing of Richland, MO; three siblings: Johanna Pershing of Lebanon, MO, David Pershing and Jennifer Pershing of Richland, MO; several nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

To sum up Will’s life, here is how he described himself on his blog: “I am a work in progress. I am a home-schooling dad of one girl (she visits as she is able) and two boys and husband to a very beautiful wife. I am committed to a new journey of learning, understanding and living out a peaceful spirit-filled missional/liturgical lifestyle in our home that we now call Refuge House. I am disabled due to a long-term illness. I teach music privately and am writing to express the journey that I have embarked upon in my blog and as a freelance writer.”

Celebration of Life services were held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 13, 2012 in the Memorial Chapel of Richland with Rev. Christopher Hendrix, and Dr. Tom Hover officiating. Bro. Don Bilbary and Bro. Alex Busenitz read Scripture and Dr. Keith Sherlin shared his wonderful memories of Will via video. Pianist Catherine Dent led the congregation in singing “In the Garden”, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone” and “When We All Get to Heaven”. A video prepared by Will’s daughter, Annelyse Pershing, was played in memory of her dad. Services were under the direction of Memorial Chapel of Richland.

Will was ordained on June 29, 2012 through Christian Discipleship Ministries and it was such a blessing to have so many of his brother pastors share how they were impacted by his life and testimony.

Dr. Keith Sherlin, Will’s best friend and “adopted brother”, wasn’t able to make it in for the Celebration and so he shared his thoughts via video. Although we missed having him with us; I treasure the fact that we have his tribute to Will’s legacy forever on video to share with our children and future grandchildren and all of you.

In part two of this series I will share Annelyse’s video tribute and pictures of me with special family members at the service and I will share a look at our family’s special balloon release as we sent prayers and thank you’s up to heaven and said see you soon to Daddy.

I want you all to know how much your prayer, encouraging comments here and on the Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Page, cards and precious gifts from your hearts have meant to me and my family.  Slowly but surely we are healing and grieving.  Knowing all of you were praying for us as we prepared/planned this special Celebration and while we were there means more to me than you will ever know.  God has filled me with His peace that surpasses all understanding.  I am in awe of what He continues to do in my life and my family as we face each new day.

I want you to know that whatever it is that you face in your own life…God is with you.  We are His children.  He loves us more than words can express.  It is the hope and grace of my relationship with Jesus Christ and my heavenly Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life that get me through every new challenge.  I pray, that if you haven’t surrendered your own grief or heart-break to Him, that today you take the time to shut off the computer and spend some time with Him asking Him to take the pain and fill you with His strength and peace.  I would be honored to pray for you in your time of need as well.  Please feel free to contact me here on the blog in the comments or by sharing your prayer request in our Unwrapping His Grace Facebook community.

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God bless you all!

Unwrapping His Grace,

Mary Joy


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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/2012/10/20/celebrating-my-husbands-life-and-legacy/

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    I can imagine how love-filled this service was for your Will! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to part 2.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing


      Thank you so much! It was a very blessed day. I hope you enjoy part II.

      Unwrapping His Grace,

      Mary Joy

  • momstheword2008

    Well of course they are his sons! He was a good daddy, loving, caring, nurturing and training all of his children, his daughter included.Thank you for sharing this beautiful celebration of Will’s life.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Thank you so much. Your understanding and words mean so much to me. He really was a wonderful leader and left us a beautiful legacy to continue. I am so glad you enjoyed sharing in his Celebration of Life through this post. Your love and encouragement have meant so much to me. Blessings to you and your family!

      Unwrapping His Grace,

      Mary Joy