(Posted Aug. 9, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The time is near when the small town of Lilly Chapel will welcome a big crowd.
Lilly Chapel Methodist Church’s 39th Annual Homecoming is set for Aug. 19. The festival starts with a parade at 11 a.m. and ends with a live auction at 6 p.m. In between, visitors can enjoy live entertainment, crafts, a bake sale, a goodies tent, and face painting. This year’s grand marshals are Ralph and Sandy Conner.
Ralph grew up in West Jefferson and graduated from West Jefferson High School in 1966. Sandy was born on the west side of Columbus and graduated from Franklin Heights in 1967. Sandy said that growing up as a “city girl,” she didn’t know where West Jefferson was. That changed after she attended a cancer benefit and met Ralph.
The two had a mutual friend at the benefit. Sandy took that opportunity to introduce herself to Ralph who she thought looked handsome in his lavender shirt. They got to talking. Ralph told Sandy he was the lead singer in one of the bands playing that night. She didn’t buy it.
“I told her it was my gullibility test. She passed!” Ralph recalls.
After the benefit, the two went to TeeJay’s restaurant and talked for hours.
“I think we were just ready for each other,” Sandy said of the instant connection.
The two were married in 1984 and moved their blended family to West Jefferson–Sandy’s two children, Renee and Scott, and Ralph’s two children, Butch and Tonya. Their family has since grown to include eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Several years after they were married, when their children were older, Ralph and Sandy went looking for a church to join. Both had grown up going to church, and they were ready to return.
“We tried a couple of different churches, then tried Lilly Chapel. They were very welcoming,” Ralph said.
The couple joined the church in January 1991 and have been active ever since. Sandy is president of the Methodist Women’s group. Ralph is the church’s financial secretary and a member of the Men At Work group.
As part of the women’s group, Sandy helps to organize events like the church’s rummage sale and Easter bunny visit. The group also makes peanut butter sandwiches and snacks each month for Sufficient Grace, a local non-profit that provides food for children in need. As part of the men’s group, Ralph helps with fundraisers, like sub sandwich sales and shuttle service at the county fair, to help offset costs associated with the church building. Both are very happy to be a part of the church.
“Ralph and I have grown so much with it,” Sandy said.
When asked what they thought of being named grand marshals of the homecoming parade, Ralph said, “Humbled. There are so many people at the church who are deserving.”
The theme of this year’s homecoming is “Building for the Future,” a nod to an expansion project the church started earlier this year. The 50×60-foot addition will house a new kitchen, handicap accessible restrooms, classrooms, offices, and open space for dinners and other gatherings.
The Conners live just a few houses away from the church and are excited to watch the project’s progress.
“We’re asking people to come and grow with us,” Ralph said about the project and the church as a whole.
Lilly Chapel Methodist Church is located at 8530 Lilly Chapel Georgesville Rd., London. For more information about the homecoming, call the church at (614) 879-8007 or Connie Ballah at (614) 329-8199.