Thursday, July 16, 2009
Karon’s fan club met online
By SUE WATSON
Fifty or more fans of fiction writer Jan Karon’s Mitford Series, “Home to Holly Springs,” and other books came home to Holly Springs from places all over the United States last week to see the small Southern town that is the setting of her book and to meet and greet locals.
They also met with Karon at Christ Episcopal Church, enjoyed lunch with the author and celebrated the Third Mitford Homecoming with their beloved author.
Holly Springs was used by Karon as the birthplace of Father Tim Kavanuagh, a main character of her Mitford Series.
Meli Moore, who helped organize the first and second homecomings, a commitment of five years undertaking, provided some background on how the Mitford Homecoming originated.
Moore is from Texas.
“We’re all members of mitfordbooks.com - the website bulletin board,” she said.
Anyone can become a member of Karon’s fan club by signing up at the bulletin board for free.
“Essentially we were all strangers but many of us were members of that website for seven years,” Moore said.
“People from all over the world sign on free to become members.”
In 2004, people who had signed on began to find out that they lived near other members and began to arrange to meet each other. This began to happen all over the nation and world.
“I got a Texas group - seven of us - together and we became the Yellow Rose Society,” Moore said. “There are the Birmingham Belles, the Blueberry Muffin group, the Georgia Peaches group. So at one of the Yellow Rose Society meetings I said, ‘we ought to all get together and have a homecoming.’ I put the idea on the bulletin board and I got duly elected chairman.”
The First (international) Mitford Homecoming took place at Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center near Black Mountain, North Carolina.
“We had a primrose tea just like Cynthia in the book did,” Moore said. “Viking books hosted it and Ms. Karon came and that was the highlight of our first homecoming.”
Two years later (2007) the second Mitford Homecoming (HC2) was held at Blowing Rock, North Carolina. The town had served as the prototype community for all the Mitford Series and Karon lived there, Moore said.
Blowing Rock went all out for the homecoming. A Mitford Day Festival was created and townspeople dressed up and acted as characters. A play, “Father Tim at Home in Mitford,” was produced and the huge festival honoring Karon was thrown in the community including a big parade and a private luncheon with the author and her fan club.
“Then I resigned - that took five years of my life,” Moore said.
Moore said the job of organizing is huge.
“You are dealing with all strangers from all over the country who don't know each other and it is all organized on the bulletin board,” Moore said.
She gives God credit for the organization in keeping with the spiritual ideas presented in Karon’s books.
“We didn’t organize Homecoming; God did,” said Moore. “I thank God we can honor Jan because of the wonderful gift that God gave her that she shares with us.
“It’s amazing how instantaneously, how deeply and how quickly friendships are formed online through this bulletin board website and Jan’s characters. It’s just amazing.”
Moore said Jan’s writing is down to earth and easy to read.
“But let me tell you this, Father Tim is Jan Karon’s alter ego,” she said. “And her message about God’s love she shares through Father Tim is life changing.”
Jane Moore, no relation to Meli Moore and from Colorado, agreed.
“I would say they (the books) are life changing,” she said. “They renewed my faith and improved my character.”
Fan Carol Dean from Albertville, Ala., found strength from Karon’s books and a solution to depression that had daunted her.
“I read an article in The Atlanta Constitution and Jan Karon’s article was in there,” she said. “I was depressed and those books lifted me out of my depression.” Dean said she read the books at night to help get some sleep.
Meli Moore said the books are not about God.
“They are about real human beings who live in a town like Holly Springs, Blowing Rock, or Brenham, Texas, home of Blue Bell Ice Cream,” she said.
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