In Memory of Tom Warner 1952-2013

Posted by Eric Hoheisel, Senior Pastor on Thursday, January 16, 2014

When someone we love dies many people say it feels like time slows down. The clock still moves at a regular pace but our perception of time slows. Somehow we feel like we need to take a deeper, longer breath because the person we have known and loved can’t. Perhaps that is as it should be.

Life is a precious gift…a gift we take for granted most of our waking hours. And (strangely) it is precisely when the gift is removed…that we appreciate it most. New Years is a time we make resolutions about how the year ahead will be different; better. This is a good, Godly impulse. We long for better because God put it in our hearts to want better… because this is not our home. (If we are satisfied with war and corruption… selfishness and deceit…then there is something wrong with us!)

God made us for something better: and we long for it. After praying with Tom at bedside this past Monday, I went back to the church and looked for a drawing from Tom I used to have on a bulletin board in my office. It was one of several Tom gave to me over the years of simple, bright, colored flowers in a vase.

I wasn’t able to find it…at some point I will, and I will smile when I do. But (at the moment) like the picture, Tom is gone.  At least temporarily. Like the picture, I will see Tom again-I just don’t know when.

But in the meantime, I am left with some things to hold on to. First, is the memory of the gift of Tom, taking me up to his room on Harding Ave. in Oaklyn… Showing me all his drawing supplies…and giving me (from the heart) one of his masterpieces. There are some gifts you just don’t forget. Tom gave me one of them. Second, Tom helped me to restore 2 words to my vocabulary. Simple, and beauty. (Now we all know that Tom could be stubborn when he wanted to… although probably a lot less stubborn than most of us… We just cover it up better!)

But the words I will take with me from Tom are simple and beauty. Down Syndrome left Tom to live out a life that was, in some ways, more simple than the rest of ours. Yet over the years I have come to see the word simple, as my friend. The rest of us make things too complicated. Life is better lived when simple. We try to pack more and more into our lives…thinking that will make our lives “fuller” but it doesn’t.

Simple is a good word.

A gift from Tom.

Another word Tom retuned to my lexicon: beauty.

There is beauty all around us. In people, in nature, in circumstances, in unlikely packages.

There are flowers if we take time to admire them. Beauty is not something we can buy at a cosmetic counter or in a clothing boutique… it is a characteristic of the spirit. Tom was beautiful in his own unique way.

Simple. Beauty. Today, I stand before you a changed man because I knew Tom Warner. And as I more forward and live out the rest of my life…it is my hope that I will:

Live more simply and…

Look for more beauty.

Being an artist myself, I plan to do more painting and drawing. And I will smile and thank God for the gift of Tom, every time I do.


Tags: tom warner  memorial  loving memory 

Meet Our Sr. Pastor


Rev. Eric Hoheisel Rev. Eric Hoheisel is the Pastor of the Oaklyn Baptist Church in Oaklyn, NJ, and is a past moderator of the Greater Delaware Valley Association of the American Baptist Churches of NJ. Previously he served as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Jamestown, Ohio, and as an Interim Pastor at Washington Community Fellowship, Washington D.C. Pastor Hoheisel is a 1995 graduate of Eastern Baptist Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary) and a 1984 graduate of Wittenberg University (Ohio). Prior to his service as Pastor, Rev. Hoheisel served as Executive Director of Love & Action, a Christian ministry to men, women and children with HIV/AIDS (1990-1992). There he developed and conducted educational seminars and workshops for churches and helped coordinate a national network of like-minded ministries. From 1987-1990 he worked in Washington D.C. doing urban mission work through Youth with a Mission. At the time he also served on a steering committee for the Congressional Staff Fellowship. Prior to entering ministry, Eric was a Senior Consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton in the area of Telecommunications Policy. Pastor Hoheisel has two sons, Will and Luke. His wife, Jennifer, is a Professor of Philosophy at Camden County College. Rev. Hoheisel has a special heart for prayer and spiritual formation issues. He also greatly enjoys finding the connections between spirituality and the fine arts. Pastor Eric conducts a five session workshop on prayer. For more information on this workshop, please contact the church office.

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