Russ and Sue Ives: Birmingham First is "Home"
Before he was aware of it, the sanctuary, choir rooms, and hallways of Birmingham First would become a second home to Russ. He didn't have a chance. When the congregation moved from downtown to way out in the country on West Maple, Russ was among the first new members incorporated into this long-established congregation by baptism in the new building. "I've been a member for almost a third of our 200-year history."
His fate was sealed even before his baptism, since his father married the daughter of a bishop. It was further sealed when that same grandfather and bishop performed Russ's baptism and dedicated the new building in 1952. The legacy was practically insured.
In a similar way, but different historic trajectory, the same was true for Sue. Only one step removed from being a bishop's grandson is having your mother serve as the senior pastor's secretary. She too was on solid legacy footing. With her mother's job and a father active in many areas of the church, another legacy was blooming.
Song brought them together and still is the common denominator of their favorite church activity – choir. Russ joined choir in first grade, but it was in the high school youth choir when their paths first crossed. However, they didn't meet at church, or even notice each other until Sue's senior year in high school. At Russ's sister Cathy's request, Sue invited Russ to a UMYF Christmas caroling party (that's the music part of their destiny) at Sue's home during his winter break from college. They never really had talked to each other before that night, and since then they've never stopped.
Over the past 41 years, Russ and Sue have served Birmingham First on many volunteer committees and in several leadership positions. In addition, Sue worked for the church as Children's Ministry Director for 15 years. "This is a second home for us – we love it here, we practically live here, and we have lifelong friends here."
When asked about the process which led them to join the Legacy Society, Russ noted the witness of his parents, who were philanthropic in their estate planning. "We have been inspired by their commitment to generous giving and hope to live up to the tradition they modelled. Remembering Birmingham First is like remembering our family – it's home."