Francisco’s “Farewell Sunday”

Tributes for Francisco Fernandez & Taide Prieto

 Aug. 25, 2019


Pastor Rich Knight

Ginnie Hall asked me if I was going to preach this Sunday. I told her that I would be giving a very short message. She then suggested that I get the word out about that, because it might be a drawing card for folks to know that I was just going to preach a really short message.

I was taught that every experience of Christian worship should include reading from our sacred texts, our scriptures. So I’ve come up with a few verses that I believe are fitting for this day, fitting for Francisco & Taide.

  1. The first is from the book of I Samuel, ch. 16. It’s David lifting King Saul’s spirits by playing his harp.

I Samuel 16:23 – “And whenever the evil spirit . . . came upon Saul, David took his lyre (harp) and played it . . . and Saul would be relieved and feel better.”

David’s beautiful music lifted Saul’s spirits. And the two of you have lifted our spirits to great heights time & time again through your beautiful music. And we thank you.


  1. Psalm 33:3 – is another fitting verse:

“Sing to the Lord a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts of joy.”   “Play skillfully”

Your dedication to playing skillfully, your dedication excellence is truly inspiring. And for that you have our profound respect & gratitude.


  1. Paul’s tender words to the Thessalonians.

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives as well.”   I Thessalonians 2:8

Paul speaks about the love that he & the Thessalonians share, and that because of that love and in that love, they shared their very lives with one another. And we have done that, because of the faith & love that we share. I love how you have shared your parents with us, and your many musician friends with us. We have done life together as people of faith, as sisters & brothers in Christ. And that’s what church is all about. We have shared our very lives with each other. And for that we are truly grateful.

Francisco, we’ve exchanged a lot of texts and emails in the past 3 years.

There were several this year that stood out & said a lot. Several times you wrote,  “Thank you for your love and support for me and for Taide.”

I was so grateful to read that, because that’s what it is between you & me, between the two of you and all of us. Love.

One final thing – playing “Feliz Navida” with you on Christmas Eve is the most fun I’ve ever had in church! Thank You! I’ll never, ever forget it! Thank You for everything!

Next up we’ll hear from several members of our choirs. First, Lynn Horton of the Bell Choir.


Farewell to Francisco from the Bell Choir – Lynn Horton

Good Morning! So, if we sounded extra good this morning, and I hope we did, it’s twofold; one, is that we certainly hoped to play our very best for Francisco today, because, my, is he patient with us! And, the second reason is that this summer the bells went away, that was why there was some question as to whether we’d play today. The bells went down south to be not only polished, you might have noticed how shiny they are, but to be retuned, reground, and to have their clappers all tightened, and so forth. So, thanks to the support of the church, because a large part of the budget does go to supporting the music portion of our programming, and we get a little share of that for bells, and some of that went to the expense of doing that for us, so thank you to everybody.

So, I was elected to speak on behalf of the bell choir, so these are some words that were written for me to share with you.

We are a small group, some of us can barely read music, but we are united by our love of music, and the knowledge that if we play a note, at just the right time, together we can produce something that is somewhat recognizable as a tune. Francisco, you do have the patience of a saint! You have elevated us from playing a tune to playing music. Your musical direction and leadership have been incredible to the bell choir. You always bring a lot of energy, and a wonderful smile, to whatever you suggest, and it’s always delivered in a positive way! I’m sure inside his head there’s some Spanish words that I don’t know, but outwardly, he’s very positive! This is a trait that will always serve you well. We loved having you as our director, and we will miss you dearly.

You both, often, stepped in and seamlessly played with us, which was often necessary, because we are often low on ringers. (Which is a shameless bid for people to join the bell choir.)

Both Francisco and Taide have been such a wonderful blessing to us all. Your music has been the beautiful gift in our worship services. We wish you all the best as you continue to strive in your musical careers to develop as musicians; we’ll miss you, we love you, and may God be with us until we meet again.

Lynn Horton, on behalf of Christine McNamara, Johanna Wray, Mary Horne, John Wray, Therese Burdo, Janie O’Brien, Sue Sarafinas, Lillian Beean. Central Congregational Church Bell Choir, August 25, 2019.

Ellen Kunkel

Dear Francisco,

I’ve really anticipated our choir practice & truly thought of it as a high point of my week:)  I’ve been very grateful for your talent and teaching – right here on OUR STAGE!  Because of the manner in which you prepare us to sing our anthem each Sunday, I knew that you would get us “there”, as YOU already know WHAT you want to hear and HOW you want to hear it!  More often than not, we usually needed some adjustments and more rehearsing!  So, you taught us to listen to ourselves and in combination with each other, and to think about the meaning & feelings of the piece – so that we as a choir could better share our music with the congregation.

And Thank You you for bringing Taide & her cello along; what a brilliant pair and soloists you are!!  and …..for your sharing with our congregation many musical talents from Boston – like David & Ana Mara and ……for getting us to Carnegie Hall!!  It surely has been our church and community’s very good fortune that our paths have crossed on your musical journey.  May God speed you both ever onward to even greater musical joys and experiences!

Don Desfosse

“How lucky we are to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– adapted from a quote from Winnie The Pooh

We were a group of saddened church musicians.  Nearly 5 years ago, our beloved Music Director, Frances Burmeister, announced she was leaving us to move South.  What were we going to do?  There was NO WAY we could find anyone as good as Frances.  She had taught us so much.  She had really raised our game.  I found myself on the search committee.  So many people pleaded with us to try to find someone even half as good.

We interviewed a bunch of folks.  All of them seemed nice.  All of them seemed pretty competent.  None of them could come close to what we had.  They’d be fine.  But we really wanted more than fine.  We wanted excellent.

Some young kid with some decent church experience in both Mexico and the US, and a lot of piano experience, including a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the Boston Conservatory, but not a ton of discernible organ experience applied.  He spoke in his cover letter about trying to help us achieve our dreams.  I felt something.  We invited Francisco in for an interview.  He was a bit shy, admitted he didn’t know the organ all that well but would definitely learn.  He spoke about his love for God, and for people, and for music, and for making beautiful music for the glory of God.  We all felt something.  Then he played the piano.  WOW!!  This guy was good!  No, not just good, incredible!  The pure goodness in his soul, his incredible musical talent, his ability to teach, and his passion for making beautiful music for the glory of God left us feeling instantly that he was the right one for us.

And he sure was! Francisco’s talent is absolutely amazing.  And then we got to meet Taide.  And listen to her incredible talent.  Another WOW!

Francisco was, for us, all that we had hoped and prayed for, and more.  He directed us.  He taught us.  He challenged us.  He really raised our game, both as musicians but as people.  The reality is that as talented as Francisco and Taide both are, they are truly pure, amazing, people who truly live their lives as God asks us to.  They set an example for all of us.  They pour their hearts and souls into raising their own games, challenging themselves (and each other, I imagine ?), both as musicians and as disciples of God.

Let’s talk for a second about raising our game.  In the past, we did a couple of Messiah sings, and put on a concert or two.  Francisco had a vision – a vision of putting on a concert with a bunch of incredibly talented musician’s from Boston (thereafter referred to as “Francisco’s Friends”) and opening our doors wide to the public.  It would be big!  As the Treasurer of the Music Committee, all I initially heard was It would be Expensive!  And we had never put something on as big as he was envisioning, so I had no idea if we would even come close to breaking even.  But we did.  And we did much more than that.  We raised our game with every concert.  More musicians.  More people.  More languages!  Chairs in the narthex.  A viewing station downstairs in Fellowship Hall.  I mean, really?  Who does that?  We did.  Thanks to the vision and passion to make beautiful music for the glory of God.

How lucky we are to have been able to know and love someone who makes saying goodbye so hard.  We absolutely hate to see you leave.  The reality is that with the talents that Francisco and Taide have, it’s not like we could keep you around forever; I think we all knew that all along.  You are both so incredibly talented.  That alone would make saying goodbye hard.  But it’s much more than that.  You’ve become such important parts of our lives.  You’ve touched us in ways that only close family, and God, can touch us.  And so, like parents seeing their kids off to college for the first time, or letting go when they leave home to start the next chapter in their lives, we are here to see you off.  Know how deeply you’ve touched us.  Know how deeply we respect your talents and your love for God.  Know how deeply we love you.  Know how thrilled we are for your success!  Know how much we will miss you.  But we know that this is such a tremendous opportunity for both of you, and are so proud of you both.

It’s too hard to say goodbye.  So we won’t.  We will just say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for sharing your love and talents with us.  We will say good luck, because we know you’re continuing with another phenomenal chapter in your lives.  And we will say we love you, now and forever.  You are both forever part of our family, and we hope and pray to see you again!

God Bless you!

Te amamos. Que Dios esté contigo siempre.

We love you.  May God be with you always.

Glenn Dissinger 

Around 40 years ago in another Christian fellowship/church, there was another beloved couple that were moving away to begin the new chapter in their lives.  A songwriter in that Christian fellowship/church decided that he needed to express the thoughts, the feelings, the blessings and well-wishes that he and the other members of that group had for these dear friends.  So, he sat down and wrote a song to convey all he wanted to say to them, and then sang it to them during their farewell gathering.

That songwriter was Michael W. Smith, and the song he wrote for that occasion became one of the most played contemporary Christian songs of the 70’s and 80’s.  The song and lyrics are appropriate today for what I wish to express to you both, Francisco and Taide.  However, there is no way that I could get through trying to sing it today without breaking down.  So, I would like to read the words of this song as my gift to you both.

Here are the lyrics of Michael W. Smith’s song…  “Friends”

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

With the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you’ll live in
Is the strength that now you show
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

No, a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends.


Margie Dissinger


You have been a wonderful blessing to the choir and our church.  You have brought the choir up to new levels, which probably was not always the easiest, but you kept encouraging us to do better.  I believe the attendance in the concerts showed that it was working. You also gave us a once in a lifetime experience of singing in Carnegie Hall.  You and Taide have such wonderful talent and warm personalities and you have become family to this church.  You will be so greatly missed and so it is with love that we say so long for now as you begin this new chapter in your lives.  We know the Lord has great things planned for the two of you and we wish you the very best and many blessings.



Margie Dissinger then presented the briefcase & check from the choir.


Linda Carson & Jean Montgomery presented the prayer shawls that they had made for Francisco & Taide, using the flags of their home countries.


Pastor Rich presented the gift bags with Michigan hoodies & hats, a pic of the church, a photobook of the concerts and Chelmsford coasters.


Dick Papenfuss presented the check from the congregation’s donations.


Francisco made remarks and then played a Beethoven piece.



Farewell Prayer & Blessing – Pastor Rich

– our choirs joined in the “laying on of hands”

Loving God, thank you for the gift of Francisco & Taide. They truly are a duo of faith, hope and love. Thank You for how you have used them to inspire us, to lift our hearts to you. Thank you for the gifts you have so generously given them, and for how they have dedicated themselves to using those gifts for your glory.

Bless them in this next chapter of their lives. Keep them strong and healthy as individuals and as a couple. Bless Taide as she enters a rigorous & challenging program. Bless Francisco as he enters a new community of faith. May he find there sisters & brothers to lead, inspire and have fellowship with. Bring faith-filled people into their lives to walk with them on their journey.

Francisco & Taide, may God the Creator, the author of life, continue to fill your life with every good blessing from above;

May Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, continue to shine through you, as you live for him; and may God the Holy Spirit, bless you with the fruits of the Spirit & the power of the Spirit, this day and always.

And all God’s people said, “Amen.”


Closing Hymn: “When in Our Music God is Glorified”

Benediction: Vaya con Dios!


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