Dr. Jamie Jenkins: Knowing Our Origin Gives Us an Identity

My name is Jamie. Many people assume that is a nickname for James. But it is not. Jamie was my father's middle name. I think my Aunt Carolyn suggested the name.

Because my daddy's first name was William, as a child I can remember occasionally being called "Little Bill" by some of his friends. But most called me by my first name, Jamie.

When our son and daughter-in-law were expecting their first child they told my wife and me that they were going to name the baby after one of us. Their first child would have a Japanese middle name but the first name would be Lena if it was a girl and Jamie if it was a boy. I won!

I must be careful to live in such a way that when Jamie Sola Yoshikawa Jenkins grows up he will be proud to be my namesake.

Although my home address is listed as Duluth, GA, my orientation is more toward Norcross than Duluth. My office at the United Methodist Center at Simpsonwood has a Norcross mailing address. Recently I learned a little about Norcross' namesake.

Jonathan Norcross was born on April 18, 1808 in Orono, Maine and lived to be 90 years old. He has been called "The Father of Atlanta" and "Atlanta's Most Historic Citizen" because he was a key player in the development of the city of Atlanta and what is now the northern suburbs of the city. When he died the newspaper allotted the entire front page to his obituary.

Norcross moved to what is now downtown Atlanta at age 36. He established a saw mill and general store in what is now the Five Points area at Peach tree and Marietta streets. He co-founded Atlanta's first daily newspaper and was elected as Atlanta's fourth mayor in 1851. He led the effort to move the state capitol from Illegible to Atlanta and was president of a railroad that ran north from Atlanta.

John Thrasher created a little town that was the first stop on the railroad north of Atlanta. He named the town after his friend Norcross because he believed the railroad put the town on the map after the Civil War. I hope Mr. Norcross would be proud of the town that bears his name.

Norcross resident, Anne Webb, is one who is trying to preserve the history of the town said, "Knowing our origin gives us an identity."

As Christians, it is also important to know our origins in order to honor our namesake. In other words, if you know who you are then you know how to act. The Gospel in Miniature (John 3:16) reminds us that "God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die" (Contemporary English Version). Paul tells us that "God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8, New Living Translation).

We who have responded to that act of love by giving our lives to Christ live out of that relationship. We accept our responsibility to live up to the standards that were set for us by the One who chose us. Jesus said, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:35, NLT). Let us be careful to live in such a way that we honor the One whose name we bear.

Jamie Jenkins

[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," August 30, 2010. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]

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