It is evil in itself. To separate ourselves from a body of living Christian, with whom we were before united, is a grievous breach of the law of love. It is the nature of love to unite us together; and the greater the love, the stricter the union. And while this continues in its strength, nothing can divide those whom love has united. It is only when our love grows cold, that we can think of separating from our brethren. And this is certainly the case with any who willingly separate from their Christian brethren. The pretences for separation may be innumerable, but want of love is always the real cause; otherwise they would still hold the unity of the Spirit in the bound of peace. It is therefore contrary to all those commands of God, wherein brotherly love is enjoined: To that of St. Paul, "Let brotherly love continue:" -- that of St. John, "My beloved children, love one another;" -- and especially to that of our blessed Master, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" Yea, "By this," saith he, "shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another."
Ronald Jon Balzer was born on October 14, 1961 in Westland, Michigan to Richard Earl and Leola Ann (Howe) Balzer, Sr. He passed away at the age of 52 on August 10, 2014.
Ron was the Superintendent of the New South Conference, but started in ministry as a youth pastor at Westland Free Methodist and then became Senior Pastor at Bread of Life from 1998-2009. Ron loved the Lord, and had dedicated his life to serving Him and bringing others to know Him.
In 1982, Ron married his best friend Tammy, after pursuing her and being turned down many times. They have 3 children, Corey, Daniel & Abbie, but had grown their family when Corey married Ricky and in 2010, they became grandparents to Hayleigh-Ann Paige.
Ron loved to laugh. His smile & laughter were contagious. Always had the right words to say - the best advice. He loved to fish, golf, and being around others, especially his family. He knew the importance of fellowship and thought that there was no better way than with a bunch of guys and a dead pig.
He is survived by his father, brothers, daughters, son and son in-law
Tamra Ann Balzer was born in Pontiac, MI on June 26, 1962 to Robert Wayne and Joyce Ann (Merriman) Robertson. She passed away at the age of 52 on August 10, 2014.
Most people would say that her occupation was a Pastors wife, but recently she became an associate pastor at Bratchers Crossroads Free Methodist Church. Tammy was an amazing woman of God. She knew that God was always in control.
She was proud of her kids and thought she was the funniest in the family. She loved time with her girls, Corey, Abbie and Hayleigh, especially at the beach. She loved taking pictures, usually bad ones of everyone, crocheting, cooking, everyone loved her lasagna, and pulling weeds, it was free therapy at Ricky and Corey’s.
Ron and Tammy had a wonderful marriage. They were with each other through it all: ministry, raising a family, caring for people and until the end.
She is survived by her mother, father, brothers, daughters, son and son in-law.
Hayleigh-Ann Paige Fowler was born on August 26, 2010 in Ocala, FL to Richard Lee and Corey Ann (Balzer) Fowler. She passed away at the age of 3 on August 10, 2014.
She loved all things Disney, riding horses, swimming, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Dunkin Donut donuts, Chocolate Milk and Sea World. She loved everyone & everything. She brought a smile to everyones face she met. She loved Jesus and learning songs about Him. She had just learned her first bible verse “ O Lord you searched me and you know me” Psalms 139:1. Everywhere she went she made friends and was looking forward to starting school and making new ones, imagine the friends she has made in Heaven already. She is and will always be the most precious gift Ricky and Corey have ever received.
She is survived by her parents, grandparents, 5 great-grandparents and many Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.
We’ve all been stunned this week by the passing of Superintendent Ron and Tammy, along with their granddaughter. This sudden and tragic death has shocked and deeply saddened us all. To realize that we won’t see Ron bounce into the room again with his infectious smile, we won’t get those email notes from Tammy any more. Those and many other realizations have cast a pall over all of us in the New South Conference. As well as being one of the eastern-area superintendents that I work with, Ron was a personal friend, so I’ve shed more than a few tears this week, too.
I was able to immediately travel to Florida on Monday and meet with the 3 children (Corey, her husband Ricky, Daniel, and Abigail). I wanted them to know how much the Free Methodist Church values their parents and that we will honor them in every way we can. The children have a resilient spirit and a strong faith. I’m confident that they’ll be okay, although they’ll always deeply miss their parents’ presence. I know they appreciate your prayers for them during these days, weeks, and months.
Here are a few informational items that you should be aware of: There will be two memorial services, plus I believe a couple of local churches are having their own services. But the two main memorial services will be:
This Friday in Ocala, Florida at the Bread of Life Free Methodist Church at 7PM. The children and local pastor are organizing this. Ron & Tammy had both left clear instructions that they preferred cremation over burial and the family is respecting their wishes, so there won’t be a burial, as such. I will represent the denomination at this service and I know several from the conference will also be attending.
Then on August 30th, at 1PM there will be a memorial service for Ron and Tammy at the Wilmore Free Methodist Church. We considered having this at the Eagle Ridge campground, but finally I decided that the Wilmore setting would be most appropriate. I will be organizing this service, in coordination with the local church, and we invite you all to attend. The children have indicated that they’ll be able to be with us for this service also.
We have set up a scholarship fund for the children because both Daniel and Abigail are attending Spring Arbor University and are going to need some help. Ron had a life insurance policy through the church that will help with some expenses but it’s not going to go very far. So I’d encourage you that this is a very practical way to help these good children out and to honor Ron and Tammy. You can either give on-line or by sending a check to headquarters (or just bring it to the memorial). The on-line link is: https://give.fmcusa.org/donation/memorial-giving. My suggestion would be that you go ahead and do this now rather than put it off for later.
As a conference we obviously are going to have to consider our future leadership needs. My own inclination is to ask the conference to name an interim superintendent until annual conference in the spring. This would give us time during the rest of this year to evaluate our situation and look for the right solutions. This isn’t the time to go into details, but I’m just alerting you that I’ll be keeping you informed over the next several weeks and I expect to call an adjourned sitting of the New South Annual Conference in September so we can address the interim leadership question. I considered combining the adjourned sitting with the memorial service but it just didn’t seem right, so we’ll keep these two matters separate. I hope that seems right to you, too.
Feel free to forward this email to your local church and others I might have missed.
The family and I appreciate your many calls, emails, and Facebook comments that have registered your love for Ron & Tammy. We are grieving privately but we must also grieve publicly. You may not remember, but my annual conference sermon this year was on ecclesiology, the nature of the church. At its core, the church is the community of believers; it’s us, together. We are the church when we gather. When we’re separate we’re not the church. And we need each other most at moments like this. We will BE the church for each other and for the Balzers.