A lot has changed since 1972. In 1972, bell bottoms and body suits were in style, two Apollo missions landed Americans on the moon, a gallon of gas cost 55 cents, the original Godfather premiered, and Atari released PONG. The year 1972 was also a remarkable year for Advent Christian Village (ACV) because of the addition of several key staff member, and among them were Jim and Rosemary Humbles. Jim retired as president of ACV in 2008. And this month, Rosemary is following suit, retiring from the position she has held since 1981: minister of music and education.
In 1972, Jim was the Assistant Dean of Students at Aurora College in Illinois. A former roommate of his, Sid Bradley, had been directing the children’s program at the home and orphanage in Dowling Park since 1969. Sid decided to go back to school for his PhD. and suggested Jim as his replacement to Pomeroy Carter, the president of ACV at that time. Pomeroy asked Jim to visit Dowling Park and it wasn’t long before the Humbleses made the move to Florida.
Rosemary had been teaching middle school English in Illinois, but had planned to be a stay-at-home mom in Dowling Park because she and Jim had recently become parents. Though her college degree is in teaching, Rosemary was (and is) an accomplished musician. In fact, her first Sunday in Dowling Park, Rosemary was asked to fill in at the organ during the Sunday morning service because the regular organist was away.
Within the year, Rosemary was approached by Village executive Pomeroy Carter to lead a children’s choir on Saturday mornings. It wasn’t long after that she was working part time, using her musical abilities at both the church and around Dowling Park. When she was first asked to lead the adult choir, she turned down the offer. At the time, the choir consisted of about eight members who were all up in years. But the church was persistent. When Rosemary requested a few additional choir members (staff who she knew could sing) and they agreed to join, so did she.
Rosemary remembers with fondness and many smiles those early years. For the very first cantata she conducted, people stood on stepladders on the platform holding up lights to use as stage lighting. Under her direction, that small choir grew and grew. During the last Sunday morning service in Bixler Chapel before the church moved into the newly construction Village Church in 1988, the choir filled the entire platform and Pastor Weldon Chambers had to sit on the front pew while waiting to preach.
Rosemary and Jim moved to Tallahassee for a brief five months in the early 80s. During that time, Jan Thomas, Pastor Ron’s wife, took over the choir (Ron filled the pulpit after Weldon retired). Jan had been the choir’s accompanist. When the Humbleses moved back to Dowling Park, Jan willingly welcomed Rosemary back to her post as choir director. At that time, the church decided to make Rosemary’s position full time, adding education responsibilities to her weekly duties, and giving her the title of Minister of Music and Education.
When asked to reflect on the years that have gone by, Rosemary remembers fondly the way the staff was so close in the early days of Advent Christian Village. A particular favorite pastime the staff enjoyed together was going to Howard Johnson’s and getting fried clams. When events were held, the whole administrative staff performed every job: they planned it, set up, did the event, cleaned up afterward, and then met to evaluate how it all went. Everyone pitched it, no matter their title. And there was no separation of adults and children. If the staff had kids, the kids were involved in everything as well.
There are a couple things Rosemary says she will miss the most after retiring. First and foremost is the adult choir. “They’re like family,” she says. Her emotions run deep when she tries to express her feelings for the many hardworking people she’s had the privilege to direct over the years. Some have moved away, some have passed on, some have grown up and started families, but all of them have earned a place in her heart.
During her years with The Village Church, Rosemary has championed intergenerational programs. One such program which has been very successful is the Pal program. Developed from a Pioneer Clubs program, The Village Church’s Pal program teams each school-age child with a senior adult. The pairs are encouraged to engage in each other’s lives by participating in activities together and praying for each other. Rosemary has worked to continue the intergenerational atmosphere which has made the Village so unique since its beginning over 100 years ago.
What does the future hold for Rosemary? She says she and Jim have some traveling they’d like to do. She’s seen some great American landmarks that Jim hasn’t, and she’s looking forward to sharing them with him. She says she isn’t planning to become a stranger to The Village Church, though she’s planning to enjoy sitting in the congregation for a while.
Whoever follows Rosemary in her role has some big shoes to fill. The music and education ministries at The Village Church are what Rosemary has molded them into over the past 43 years. And while the church will miss Rosemary leading the singing each Sunday morning, directing adult choirs, youth choirs and handbells, organizing top-notch Christian education programs, spearheading intergenerational programs such as the Pal program, and writing and directing amazing cantatas (to name just a few of the things she does); the congregation will continue to enjoy what makes Rosemary Humbles the wonderful person she is: the undeniable love she has for God and for each of His children.