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Dustin and Mary Jane May

Hola! (That is Spanish for hello.) My name is Jonathan Dustin May but I actually go by my middle name, Dustin, and I was born on January 27, 1981.  My dad, Randy, is a CPA in the Memphis area and my mom, Janet, is a first grade school teacher at Ross Elementary.  I am the oldest of three children.  My sister, Tabitha, is two years younger than I am and she lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Many of you probably know my brother, Arthur, as you have possibly confused us for each other in the church hallway.  Arthur is four years younger than I am and runs the night shift of maintenance here at the church. 

I grew up in the Hickory Hill area of Memphis.  We attended Ridgeway Baptist Church and my mom was always faithful to have us in church every week.  When I was in the 3rd grade we were going through some tough times as a family.  Mom and dad were moving towards divorce and the church we attended was struggling. During that time, we found our way to Central Church on Winchester and Kirby.  We became involved in the Children’s Ministries doing Pioneer clubs and going on different retreats.

When I think about first coming to Central, I remember many faces I met and how fun it was to run around in such a HUGE church.  You could hide and no one would ever find you – whether that meant under the pews in the sanctuary or finding one of the 2nd floor office cubicles.  One of my favorite memories was when I was at camp.  On a summer trip at Camp Tsungani, during cabin time, our counselor began to speak about hell and the difference between heaven and hell.  I remember thinking that I wanted the assurance that I would go to heaven.  I wanted to know the Jesus my counselor was talking about.  Even as an eleven year old, I wanted Him to move and begin to heal my life – and I accepted the Lord in June of 1991.  It took some time to realize what it meant to make Him Lord of my life but I truly knew who Jesus Christ was, loved Him, and wanted to live for Him. 

Shortly after Camp Tsungani I began the transition into Jr. High.  I attended Briarcrest Middle School and was very active in Jr. High ministries, going on all the trips.  So many youth volunteers poured their lives into me, like Don Gilbert and Tom Waring who were the Youth Staff at Central.  As I moved through Jr. High and High School, I was very active in athletics which included football, baseball, basketball, and wrestling.  My favorite sport was baseball; I pitched, caught, and played third base.

My best memory in High School came while on a Gatlinburg trip my freshman year.  I was on a winter retreat with Central Church to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Lord moved in a mighty way through Scripture and worship.  I vividly remember the last night of the retreat.  The pastor told of a man’s calling to GO as an ambassador of the Gospel.  He stated, “A man was going over to the leper colony when he was asked, why go when you know you can’t return?  The man stated, ‘Why should I enjoy the amenities of home when these people need Jesus too.’”  Immediately, the Lord began to speak to my heart and showed me that my calling was to be more than an incognito Christian. I went forward and asked the Lord for guidance.  He was calling me into Christian service and promised that He would lead the way.  I felt confused, nervous, and scared, yet I knew that I had made the right decision.  I prayed with a counselor and have been pursuing the area of Christian Service since that moment.

After graduating from Briarcrest High School in 1999, I bounced around a few colleges before I ended up graduating from Mississippi State University in May of 2003 with a degree in Business Administration.  This brings up a good point – I will always pull for my alma mater Mississippi State but my favorite team is Florida State University.  Whether it is Garnet and Gold or Maroon and White, I love watching college athletics, especially football.

As I continued to ask the Lord what exactly it meant to be in full time ministry He continued to open doors for me to walk right through.  He had opened many doors such as my graduating from college and then going on a short term mission trip to Costa Rica. Still, I really wanted to experience the foreign mission field for a longer period of time. After many conversations with Don Gilbert, the door opened for me to go and serve in Guayaquil, Ecuador for 5 months under International Teams Missionary, Miguel Olvera.  What an experience!  There I was able to live for a short period of time working with the youth of a church called El Jordan. God stretched me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, gave me the opportunity to learn Spanish, and do ministry in the local church.  It was awesome! 

Well, the time came for my internship with Miguel to end and once more I was asking, “God, what’s the next step?”  Wouldn’t you know it, God was faithful yet again!  I came home from Ecuador in December of 2003 and in February of 2004 I was invited to come on staff at Central Church as a youth pastor under Tom Waring.  It was a dream come true – the opportunity to serve on staff in a ministry at the church I grew up in.  So I continued the process of serving the Lord on staff as a youth pastor and asking the Lord what He wanted me to do. 

In the fall of 2004, I began attending MidAmerica Baptist Theological Seminary where I graduated in May of 2008 with a Masters in Divinity.  During my time in seminary, I began to date this very cute green-eyed blonde who had also grown up in Central Church. She shared my love of the Lord, shared my love of music, and she could sing – her name was Mary Jane Coots!  Mary Jane was going to school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and I was here in Collierville so we dated long distance.  The drive from Collierville to Knoxville is now very familiar to me.  I think I can make that drive with my eyes closed – ooops, nevermind; never drive with your eyes closed!  After dating for quite some time, I proposed to Mary Jane in December of 2007 and we were married on January 10, 2009. 

Mary Jane is the daughter of Meme Coots who teaches 5th grade at Southwind Elementary and works the front desk in our church worship center, and Mike Coots. Her grandmother, Jane Hester, teaches art here at Central Day School.  Mary Jane has two brothers: Michael is in law school at Mercer and Matthew attends MTSU in Murfreesboro. 

Mary Jane is currently teaching Spanish I and Spanish I Honors at Collierville High School along with taking graduate classes in Education at Union University.  She plans to graduate with her Masters in May of 2011.  She also teaches one of the freshman girls Sunday school classes here in the High School group. 

Mary Jane and I enjoy running and working out together, watching shows such as Survivor, NCIS Los Angeles, and nearly any movie.  Our favorite restaurants are Carrabbas and Half Shell.  One of my favorite things to do is cut the grass.  One day, I’d love to have my front yard look like a putting green. 

Awhile after Mary Jane and I were married, Tom Waring, Central’s Director of Student Ministries, announced he was retiring.  Shortly afterwards, I was offered that position.  It has almost been a year now, and I am so thankful to be able to serve here at Central Church.  God has kept His promise to guide me and direct my steps. There is no doubt this church has truly been a blessing in my life.  I came to know the Lord, accepted the call into ministry full time, experienced mission trips, came on staff, found a gorgeous Godly wife, and am able to serve the Lord here at Central Church! 

[originally posted 2011]

Craig and Ellen Reckord

What did a man from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania who had a college degree and a management job with US Steel, have in common with a farmer from North Carolina?  Well, they each had three children.  The middle child of the first man was a boy, and the middle child of the second man was a girl. These two middle children were born in the 1950s and they would meet once they were out of college and working.

In 1978, Crain Reckord was just out of West Virginia University and working at a hardwood saw mill in Plymouth, North Carolina, a small town located about 100 miles from the Atlantic Coast. Ellen was teaching elementary school there. She was from the Pamlico Sound, North Carolina area. Craig was born in Iowa and had been raised in Chicago and Pittsburgh.  Ellen had been brought up in an independent Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ Church. Craig was raised with a Catholic background. Ellen was concerned about the differences in their denominations until Craig said he wanted to go to church with her. After a year of dating, they married in that same Disciples of Christ
Church  where  Craig  had been  baptized a month earlier.

They moved to Virginia where Craig would begin a career with Union Camp Paper Company and Ellen would continue to teach school. Craig’s Logistics/Supply Chain career would last for thirty years and take them to three different states. Ellen would teach until 1983 when their son, Stuart, was born. She would never work full time again, but would have many fun part time jobs.

While in Virginia, Craig and Ellen would attend a United Church of Christ. The people there took their Bibles to church, something neither of them had ever done. As Craig and Ellen read their Bibles, and the people of the church loved on them, they began to feel closer to God.

After five years in Virginia, they would take one-year-old Stuart to Columbia, South Carolina where they would live for the next 12 years. Columbia, being the largest town (or small city) that Ellen had ever lived in, was quite exciting for her. There were parks, malls, libraries and a zoo, but best of all, there were neighbors who invited them to a Presbyterian Church in America. Here Craig and Ellen would start raising their son among people who, not only knew and believed the Word of God but lived it daily. And they began to do that also. They would take many Bible studies and Craig became a church deacon at Northeast Presbyterian church. Their daughter, Ali, was born in 1986 during their time in Columbia.

In 1995, the Reckords moved back to Virginia. With the recent losses of both of their fathers, and Craig’s having colon cancer, it was a welcome move nearer to Ellen’s family. With that move, they lived closer to the coast, got reacquainted with old friends, and found a great neighborhood in Chesapeake for raising a family.

God would take them to a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, where they would work with children and young adults, and where Craig would be an Elder.

On a dark day in 1999, Union Camp Paper Company would be sold to International Paper. Craig and Ellen were looking at a move they did not want to have to make. Craig searched for jobs in other companies in the area, but God closed all other doors and said He could use the Reckords in Memphis.

On Super Bowl Sunday in 2000 they would transplant their 11th grade son and 8th grade daughter to their new home in Germantown, Tennessee. Soon Craig would be settling into his job at International Paper, Stuart and Ali fitting into classes at Houston High and Middle School, and Ellen finding she had a knack for substituting in Germantown Schools. Their neighbors, the Abernethys, would invite them to visit Central Church. After months of church hunting, they would find a “home” at Central.

At this new church home, God connected them first, with Jr. High and then the Sr. High Youth Department. Never had either of them worked a lot with teenagers, but they took God up on His offer, and it’s been a wild ride for the last 11 years. They wouldn’t change it for the world – what a blessing. In 2011, Craig was given the honor of becoming an Elder at Central Church. So he’s off on another wild ride and looking forward to the future.

Their son, Stuart, is now married to Joy and they have a precious one-year-old son, Maddox, who is pictured above with his doting grandparents. Stuart and Joy live in Collierville and attend Central Church. Joy teaches at Central Day School, and Stuart works at Regions Bank.

Ali and her husband, Jordan, are active in their church and campus ministry at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana where Jordan is finishing his Ph.D.  Ali works as a Speech Pathologist in a nursing home/ rehab facility.

Craig now works for FedEx due to downsizing at IP in 2009, and Ellen works part time as a receptionist. God has truly blessed Craig and Ellen with a wonderful life here in Memphis, but even more with the salvation of His Son Jesus and a future in heaven with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen!

[originally posted 2011]

Ellen Olford

I am blessed to be a part of Central Church. After my great grandfather, my grandparents, and my parents, Dr. Fred and Nancy Grogan, I am a fourth generation member attending and serving in this body of believers.  Because of my parents teaching me the Word, and the impact of the church, I asked Jesus into my heart at the young age of five.

My grandmother, Mrs. Elsie McCluney, and Mrs. Nell Cummings were my Sunday school teachers from first to third grade. I loved learning from them. I remember Mrs. Gladys Heinz asking me to share my testimony in the sixth grade before the whole church. In a way, one could say that was my first message, and I have shared at many different events ever since.

I have many memories of Central from when I was younger.  One was our church team winning the city girl’s basketball tournament when I was age 14.  Mrs. Jo Ann Harris was my coach, and has been a great ministry mentor to me ever since.  I remember, watching the women of our church fill grocery bags and take them out to the poor in our community.  These experiences opened my eyes to ministry and missions.

At age 15, after a mission conference at Central Church, I heard the Lord calling me to full time ministry. I was already involved in youth ministry, and greatly anticipating where God would lead me. I graduated from Evangelical Christian School (ECS) High School and then went on to college at Memphis State. For three summers during college, I served as a youth intern at Central Church. We had a great time starting Bible Studies and leading Youth trips. The youth ministry was even able to set up other Bible Studies in strategic subdivisions in the East Memphis and Germantown areas. I finished my college education at the University of Memphis, and went on to get my graduate work in counseling.

Because of my degree in Physical Education, I taught and coached at John Brown University for 2 years. Afterwards, I returned to ECS, my high school alma mater, and coached women’s basketball for four years. My coaches, my teachers, my grandparents, and parents continued to be a great influence on my life. Sports, music, and ministry were my life!

Then, I met the man of my dreams.  On April the 13th, 1985 I received a phone call asking if I would be attending the mission’s conference that evening at Central.  I said, “I am.”  That night I had the amazing privilege of meeting the great Dr. Stephen Olford and his wife, Heather. I was pleasantly surprised to meet their son, David, as well. He was a British citizen who had traveled the world. He was sweet, had devastatingly good looks, and was extremely humble. David was all that I had prayed for, Godly and Good-looking! The year we met, I had just accepted a position to be the Assistant Director of the Family Life Center at Central Church.  David was beginning to work alongside his father at Olford Ministries International.

In September, David and I drove up for a little getaway to Pickwick Lake.  We went for a walk through the woods surrounding the lake.  Presently, we came upon a fork in the road, one that had a sign in the middle where the roads parted.  There we stopped.  David turned to me and removed from his pocket a picture of the very place where we were standing.  On the back of the photo, it said, “I want you to walk one path with me.  I want you to choose one trail. I want you to become one in Christ with me.”  Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.  I said, “Yes.”  David took my hand and we turned onto the path before us.

The night he gave me the ring was very interesting. It was late at night, and we had been out on a date. David said urgently that he needed to get something from the church. I assumed that it was all locked, but the doors were opened. We approached the sanctuary. David asked me to close my eyes. I did, and he began to lead me down the aisle to the altar. When I opened my eyes, I saw candle light and a linen table cloth dressed over the very spot where we were going to commit our lives together. David asked me to pray with him. While we were praying, my husband placed an opened box, containing my engagement ring, by the candle. It was a very beautiful, very meaningful night.

We married on April 12, 1986 three hundred and sixty-five days from the night we met. My first ministry became my ministry to my husband. We were and are, a team, serving Christ in our home, and in our areas of work.  Our marriage verse is Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  To His glory, God had given Christ to us, and had given us each other.  His provision was beyond all we could ask or imagine!

His provision includes our two amazing daughters, Lindsay and Stephanie, who love Jesus deeply.  They both have committed their lives to Christ and are following after Him. Lindsay is a sophomore at Union University now, and Stephanie is a sophomore in high school at SBEC. Both of my girls have a heart for missions and enjoy serving in the church. Each of them has gone on different mission trips through Central Church’s youth group. Both Lindsay and Stephanie sing and love music. Stephanie, my youngest, is involved in Central’s youth group. She has an incredible voice and helps lead worship for the youth. Lindsay, my oldest daughter is active in her campus, participating in intramurals, choir, and is serving in a Bible Study at a local church. My daughters are such a joy to my life. It is such a blessing to see Lindsay and Stephanie using their gifts in the church, and glorifying the Lord. I am so proud of the both of them!

David’s ministry has expanded exponentially over the years. Continuing, and enlarging, his father’s ministry, he has been equipping and training men to preach and teach God’s Word for almost 30 years. He has served as President of Olford Ministries International and Director of Studies at Olford Biblical Training Center. His work training pastors and missionaries has taken him to more than 30 countries all over the world. David also joined the leadership of our church becoming a Central Church Elder in 2006. In 2008, David was instrumental in the process as Olford Ministries joined with Union University. This partnership ensures the continuation of Dr. Olford’s legacy and enhances the resources and assets available to Union University.  David currently holds the Stephen Olford Chair of Expository Preaching at Union University.

I am grateful for the path that God has laid before me.  Central Church, Women’s Ministry, and my family have all been incredible and indescribable.  I was always drawn to serve and minister to women in the church.  As the Director of Women’s Ministries, I desire to disciple women of all ages and encourage them to be real in their faith, both in their families and in their Church.  Also, it is important for me to mobilize women to put feet to their faith both in the Church and in their community.  One of my greatest joys is teaching God’s Word weekly to women.  As I close, I am reminded of a little poem that guides my life everyday as I minister:

“Lay some soul upon my heart, and love that soul through me.
And may I humbly do my part, to win that soul to thee.”

[originally posted in 2011]

Steve and Tracey Gibbs

In November of 1956, Harold (Tibbie) and Joyce Gibbs welcomed their sixth child, Stephen Keith Gibbs, into the world. With one older brother and four older sisters – the youngest already nine years old – one would think “Stevie” was a surprise, but his parents insist he was planned, and he was certainly loved. His sisters were like four additional mothers, his brother like a second dad… he couldn’t get by with anything!

Steve grew up in rural Arkansas, working at a young age in the family owned store and helping his brother and father farm cotton, soybeans and rice near England, Arkansas. He loved sports and writing, but didn’t like chopping cotton, snakes and the fact that farm income is often determined by the weather. So, he decided in high school that he didn’t want to join the family farm but rather go to college.

A couple of months into his freshman year at the University of Central Arkansas, Steve’s father died of cancer. He left school and returned home to help his brother run the family business and farm. A year later he returned to college, but at a different school, Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was at ASU that Steve met his future wife, Tracy. If his father had not died when he did, Steve would likely never have transferred schools. He now sees his dad’s death as part of God’s plan for his life. “God turned into good what was meant for evil.” (Genesis 50:20)

Tracy Phifer was born in March 1961 in Stuttgart, Arkansas and lived in the same house throughout her childhood. Her household included her parents, Earl and Jean Phifer, two older sisters and an older brother, plus various and sundry pets. The Phifer home, although tiny, was always a gathering spot for family and friends. It was from her parents that Tracy learned the gift of hospitality. Everyone was always welcome!

Having always lived in a small town, Tracy had an interest in what life was like elsewhere so her junior year in high school she lived in the Netherlands as an exchange student. Going overseas was her first experience on a commercial airplane (although she had flown in a crop-duster!) and since this was the 1970s – long before the Internet – she only talked with her family three times the entire year. Once she returned to the States, she graduated high school and headed to ASU.

Steve was Tracy’s first date at Arkansas State University but that’s about all they agree on about their dating history. Tracy claims Steve “dumped” her two weeks before her first homecoming, but Steve remembers it differently. Regardless of the details, after a few dates and then a year apart, God brought them back together and they were married in 1983.

Steve pursed his love of writing and received bachelors and masters degrees from ASU. After working as a sportswriter for eight years, he pursued a career in advertising and public relations. Tracy graduated with a bachelor degree in marketing and had a 28-year career with Roche Labs, which ended in November 2010. She is currently working part-time with Multi-National Ministries. Steve is now a partner in TagTeam Global, a business communications firm based in St. Louis.

Steve and Tracy were both raised in church. Steve asked Jesus to be his savior at age five, in the backseat of his sister’s car at a drive-in movie. Tracy was 13 when she asked the Lord to be her savior. They are thankful to their parents for a Christian upbringing, but they did not always walk closely with the Lord. In fact, the first few years of their marriage, they went to different churches, having been raised in different denominations. Once they decided to attend the same church, they began a life of seeking after the Lord together.

Due to their careers, Tracy and Steve moved to Memphis in 1986 and 1987, respectively, after 18 months of a “commuter marriage.”   A year after reuniting their household in Memphis, their first daughter, Jordan, was born. Haley followed three years later. Rainey, the only boy and baby of the family, came along in August 1996.

Jordan graduated from the University of Memphis in 2009 and was married to Jesse Kiestler in October 2010. Haley graduated from Paul Mitchell – the School in Nashville – and has returned to Memphis to work as a hair stylist at Ardent Salon in Cordova.  Rainey is currently a freshman and baseball player at Germantown High School.

Steve and Tracy visited Central Church in early 1990 and joined a year later. The church they  had been attending had gone through a split. Even before the church split, they felt they weren’t growing in the Lord and knew they needed to find a new place to worship. God brought them to Central and what a blessing it has been in their lives!

Central has become an integral part of life for the Gibbs family. All three of their children came to know the Lord as their savior at Central. It was also at Central that they met Phillip Eyster, who is the president of Eagle Projects International (EPI), which is a church planting organization. It was through Central and EPI that Steve and Tracy’s view of missions and the spreading of the Gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:19) changed. They have been very involved with EPI for more than 15 years, and Steve has served on EPI’s Board of Directors for the past 10 years.

They also serve in Central’s mission department with Steve being on the missions committee and Tracy serving on the short-term missions committee. Steve has been on mission trips to Nepal and China; Tracy to Italy, Haiti and China. They have had the privilege of hosting many missionaries in their home over the past 20 years and they’ve seen all three of their children go on foreign short-term trips.

Besides missions, Steve and Tracy have been active in teaching in Children’s and Student Ministries for many years. Steve currently teaches in high school and Tracy teaches four year olds. They host the Central Church college group at their home on Tuesdays where their gift of hospitality (i.e. a home-cooked meal) is enjoyed by Josh Ramsey and more than 20 college students.

In 2010, Steve was approached about being an elder at Central. Greatly humbled, Steve committed his decision to the Lord and after much Bible study and prayer, he felt the Lord leading him to accept. In obedience he accepted and was ordained this year. When asked about his vision as an elder, Steve said, “Central Church is blessed with many resources. God did not give us these resources for our own comfort, but to use for His kingdom. It’s essential that we constantly check ourselves, to make sure we are humbly following Jesus in all we do. My vision is that we give the next generation a church that is precisely in tune with God’s will.” To which we say, AMEN.

Steve and Tracy, we are glad to get to know you better as fellow believers and co-laborers in the Kingdom of GOD.

[originally posted in 2011]

Randall and Mary Ann Johnson

Randall
I came to Memphis with my parents and three siblings in the summer of 1969 at the age of 16. It was my junior year in high school coming up and I was not happy about coming to Memphis. Just one year before, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed in Memphis. And though I was much closer to my birthplace of Louisville, Mississippi, it was my upbringing in Pueblo, Colorado for the first 13 years of my life and remembrances of visits to the mid-south and deep south years before that had led me to believe that Memphis was a seedbed of prejudice and someplace I didn’t want to be. It wasn’t all that easy for me to think about starting all over again either, as I had done two years previously in St. Louis, making friends, going to a new school and living in a heretofore foreign environment.

One thing, however, that had always been a constant, was church, the Presbyterian Church to be exact. So when my mom spied Central Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Poplar and Massey, just a few miles from our house, it made sense that we would try that church and at least something would be familiar.

It wasn’t.

Jimmy Latimer, with his flaming red hair and boisterous behavior in the pulpit, made me think “George Wallace” (former governor of Alabama and, at the time, advocate of racial separation), someone for whom I did not have much respect, and my brother and I would sit in the pew and make fun of him. But my parents seemed quite okay with this new church, so we kept going.

Sometime later that year, after school had started, my dad had the idea that my brother and I should attend the Sunday evening meeting for youth. I remember arguing with him that this was taking religion too seriously, that the Bible was a book written by men and therefore subject to errors, and that I definitely did not want to go. He insisted. We were going. So I called a new friend of mine from school, Bob, whose first words to me one day sitting in study hall were, “Hey, what do you believe about Christianity?” Though I responded that I was an agnostic, he kept in stride and invited me to discuss God and faith and eventually convinced me that following God was a good thing. So even though I wasn’t interested in being too radical about this stuff, if I was going to have to go to the youth meeting at least I could get him to come along with me.

The young man who was introduced to us at this meeting was named Mark, and he played a 12-stringed guitar and sang and he was cool and I was actually enjoying myself. Then Mark began to talk about his life before Christ and how off track it was. He mentioned that at one point he had asked Christ to come into his life and forgive him and that his life had completely been reoriented. Then he asked us to bow our heads and before he prayed he said, “Now if you know that you need to have this forgiveness that Jesus is offering, I want you to briefly look up at me and catch my eye, then bow your head again.”

For some unexplained reason (that I have an explanation for now), I felt very hot. I knew I needed to lift my head and look at him, but I wouldn’t do it. Mercifully Mark began to pray after that and said his amen. But before we could leave he said, “If you lifted your head and looked at me, I want you to stay a few minutes. The rest of you can go on down to the sanctuary for the evening service.” I started leaving but my brother Gary and my friend Bob stayed behind. “Oh, oh,” I thought. I went on down and when they came down we sat in the pew but I didn’t ask anything about what happened.

To my chagrin the evening service was an opportunity for Mark to speak to the whole congregation. I honestly don’t remember a word he said. But at the end he asked those who needed to come forward to receive Jesus to do so. I was sitting between Bob and my brother Gary and they started moving out to the isle, as they had apparently been prompted to upstairs before they came down. So I moved out with them and went forward. When Mark counseled us to ask Jesus to forgive us and come into our lives, I prayed that sincerely. I have never been the same since.

There were no fireworks, but I knew something important and profound had happened to me and in me. I had a new desire to read the Bible, a desire that was tested severely by the fact that none of it made much sense to me. But I was there at church now for every service and could not get enough teaching from the Word of God. That’s right. All my former objections to the Bible had vanished. For awhile, at least, I also seemed to have a respite from the temptations that constantly plagued me.  It was amazing!

I cannot say that my life was one smooth ascent to Christlikeness. It wasn’t. But the more I was taught and shown how to live the Christian life, the more I became convinced that God wanted me to serve Him with every aspect of my life. I wanted to become a pastor and help lead people to Christ. Pastor Jimmy Latimer, whom I now respected above all, encouraged me to attend Mid-South Bible College. My senior year of high school was one big attempt to make an impact for Christ on campus. My girlfriend, Mary Ann Tidwell, was willing to follow me into the ministry if that is what God wanted me to do. I “coincidentally” met the son of the Bible College president at my high school and we became friends and co-laborers for Christ on campus.

Bible College was incredible! My thirst for learning the Bible was wonderfully slaked. My teachers were amazing and many of them had studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, so it was an easy jump for me to think I wanted to go there for a master’s degree in Bible and theology.  And when my wife, Mary Ann, and my newborn daughter Kara, got to seminary, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Not for my wife and daughter, but for me!

I found myself so absorbed in my studies that I was neglecting my wife and daughter. I’ll never forget Mary Ann confronting me about it and saying maybe she should go back to Memphis to stay with her folks. I was shocked into the reality of what I was doing and decided then and there that my wife and family was more important than any schooling I might get. I couldn’t spend as much time studying; I couldn’t let school become my idol. God had different priorities for believers.

Seminary was great, but as it came to an end I found myself wrestling with a sense of inadequacy. Despite some of the most intense and profitable education, I did not feel equipped for ministry. I candidated with some churches and Mary Ann and I were even invited by one to come and “try out.”  But it didn’t work out. No one wanted us. I began to worry that it was because I wasn’t spiritual enough. God was punishing me. At the suggestion of my mom we moved back to Memphis and I applied with the Shelby County Board of Education to be a substitute teacher in the county schools and at the same time began looking at church options in the mid-south.

It was financially tough. We had three kids by this time. I wasn’t getting many calls to substitute.  But I eventually started getting several from a private school that somehow I heard about and all to substitute for one teacher.  He eventually left the employ of the school and I told the principal that I believed I could take his place teaching Algebra 2, Advanced Math and Economics.  After all, I had been perfectly trained for this, right?!

It was consistent income and I met some great kids (and some not so great ones, as well), but it made me realize all the more that I longed to minister in the church.  But because I wasn’t getting any offers from those I interviewed with, I decided that at least I might try out for the Bible teaching position at Evangelical Christian School for the next year.  I had been trained for that.  Before I could apply, however, Jimmy Latimer asked me to come to work for Central Church.  It was June 1980 when I started as the printing press operator and newsletter publisher at Central.  And though I had little training for this, I was ecstatic.  This is where I wanted to be.

Through the years my responsibilities have changed many times.  I became the adult coordinator for Sunday school under Bill Barber (great man).  I later became a full time counselor for the church.  I taught Sunday school classes, preached some, initiated programs to minister to people, took on the website for Central, had several years as college minister, gone on some amazing missions trips, and needless to say did a lot of general ministry-related things as an ordained minister (weddings, funerals, hospital visits, etc.).  I have loved my years at Central Church.

At present I am the Director of Adult Education.  I still manage our website.  I have a special place in my heart for young adults making their transition into the big world we live in.  I love teaching God’s Word.  I love helping people walk through their problems into God’s grace.  I love serving God’s people.  Mary Ann and I now have four children, all grown and married and having babies.  God has been good to us.  Whew, what an understatement that is!

Mary Ann
I was born and raised in Memphis. My parents (Kim and Virginia Tidwell) met and married at Central Church so I have a long-standing relationship with this church.  Our family definitely went to church every time the door opened.  We were there twice every Sunday and every Wednesday night and I have wonderful memories of the old church at Linden and Dudley that no longer exists.  It had a wonderful basement with many rooms and hiding places.  We kids would play on the many staircases between the basement and third floor during choir practice after the Wednesday night services.  The church was so small then that we knew everybody.

I hate to admit it but I wanted to join the church when I was 6 so I could take communion. I just thought it was so neat.  I believe I really understood salvation but it wasn’t until I was 14 that I was willing to admit to myself that I had never committed my life to Christ.  I was the kind of child who was so overly conscientious about everything I did and felt because I believed God saw it and I was afraid.  So I think I was a little less afraid of God after I was saved but I have always been a classic people-pleaser.  I  once had someone tell me that he’d never heard someone with a testimony about how good they were before they got saved.

I remember the building fund to raise money to build a church in Germantown.  The property at Poplar and Massey was a pasture with horses when I first saw it.  We took pictures of the congregation the last Sunday at Linden and the first Sunday at Poplar and Massey.  I think there were less than 150 people at that time but the church grew by leaps and bounds at that location.

Jimmy Latimer introduced me to Randall on the back porch of the church shortly after his family began attending Central.  I don’t think he was very impressed because he dated three of my friends before he asked me out.  We went to the fair on our first date and he told me that night that he was going to go to Mid-South Bible College (now Crichton College) and he wanted to go to Dallas Seminary.  I was 16 and he was 17 and we married three years later with the common goal of him attending Dallas Seminary and being in ministry.

Randall attended seminary for four years and they were wonderful years and also very hard years.  We had our first daughter a few months before we moved to Dallas and I planned to stay at home.  So for four years, I worked in the church nursery, sewed craft items to sell, and typed many papers and masters’ theses.  There were times when we had hardly any money for groceries but God always provided.  People would invite us over, or someone would leave groceries for us, or an unexpected check would arrive in the mail.  I had about 4 different tuna casserole recipes that I used very frequently.  After Randall graduated, I never made another tuna casserole!!

Those years were very special for us.  We learned a lot about God and about us.  But God had more for us to learn.  All those four long years, we dreamed of Randall graduating and getting his first job.  In fact, when things would be tough, Randall would tell me that if it just got too bad, that he would quit school and get a job.  I admit that I kind of hung onto that promise and tried to trust God that He would take care of us.  So when Randall graduated and couldn’t get a job, I would tease him that it was a good thing that we didn’t have to fall back on that promise.

The next years were very busy and hectic for us.  We had four children who made our household very loud and fun. I wanted more than anything to stay home with our children and I was able to do that until they were all in school.  But I still did a lot of typing and sewing, lots of sewing.  As the teen years were coming up, we realized that it was going to be very difficult to pay for car insurance for them and for all the things they would need.  So I went to Shelby State Community College and graduated with a nursing degree at the age of 39.  We bought our first house that year and I went to work.  I am thankful that I was able to go to school and I am grateful for all that I have learned and how I have grown through my career.  I now work at Methodist Germantown in the Same Day Surgery area.  I am very blessed to have the job that I have.

Randall became the leader of the college group in 1999.  Our kids were already having their college friends over on Sunday nights.  But it became an official open invitation at that time and we have been having these young people in our home every Sunday night since that time. We have watched them choose careers, get married and have children.  We have been blessed to be a part of their lives.

I have just recently started sewing gowns, caps and blankets for preemie babies who are born at the Med but do not survive.  Last May, Randall and I and Karen Miehe traveled to Ethiopia and had an unbelievable experience.  We spent our time with street children who have nothing but seem to always have a smile.  It was a life-changing trip.

All our children are grown now.  We love our daughters-in-law and sons-in-law.  We have 6 granddaughters that we are crazy about and we have a grandson on the way, due June 4th.

There is no other word I can use to describe my life except blessed.  I am so blessed to have been married to Randall for 36 years.  We have wonderful children who are committed Christians.  And there is nothing like having grandchildren.  Blessed! Blessed! Blessed!

[originally posted 2010]

Sam and Carol Wiley

Sam and Carol joined Central Church on Jan. 19, 1975.  They will be married forty-six years come Sept. 25, 2010.  Those forty-six years have covered a lot of miles, and the journey has included some bumps and bruises, as well as many, many blessings.  Although Sam and Carol have always endured and enjoyed life as a couple or a ministry team, theirs is also a story of two separate but blessed, giftings, lives, calls, and ministries.  One thing about the Wileys is that when they vowed “for better or worse” and “till death do us part” they meant it.  On the other hand, God has blessed them many times over for their love, loyalty, and commitment to each other and to Him.

One way God blessed Sam and Carol was by giving them two wonderful sons.  Marcus, their oldest, is a sales manager with Jamison Pest Control.  Marcus will be one who receives a special crown from Jesus for being the wonderful father he is to their precious granddaughters, Cayla and Cari (ages fourteen and eleven).  Doug, their youngest son, is the national sales director for Prime Automotive, Inc.  He has recently married, giving them a precious daughter-in-law, Pam. Sam and Carol also have one adopted child, their five year old Pekingese, Sophia (ha!).

Although Sam and Carol were and are truly “a match made in Heaven,” they come from very different beginnings and environments. Sam was born Feb. 18, 1942 in Milan, Tennessee, the youngest of three children.  His sisters were fourteen and fifteen years older, so “Sammy” was raised pretty much like an only child and enjoyed a great childhood.  Sam graduated from Milan High School in 1960, where he was the president of the student body and a three year, three sport letterman.  He then went on to graduate from Memphis State University in 1964.  He was selected to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities,” and he was elected vice-president of his Kappa Alpha fraternity.

Sam had been raised in a Methodist church, but as he so graphically puts things, said, “I was in church most of my life, but as lost as a ball in tall weeds!”  Sam also moved over into the “fast lane” while in college with the drinking and partying lifestyle – something that continued into his adult life. After graduation, he was a high school basketball and baseball coach at Kingsbury High in Memphis, and he later returned to Milan as a coach. Sam left coaching and became a candy salesman for M&M Mars.

Carol was born in Memphis on May 19, 1944, the only child of Clarence and Dianna Gee.  Carol’s life had a rough beginning, in that her parents divorced when she was very young. Her alcoholic father, whom she always loved, would come and go in and out of her life, but eventually abandoned her at a very early age.  Although Carol’s mother loved her, her focal point was more on her own survival than on raising a daughter.  However, God gave Carol a loving grandmother, who although very poor herself, took Carol in and raised and nurtured her in a godly manner. When Carol was 14 years old, her “Grammie” suffered a stroke so she and Carol had to move in with Carol’s re-married mom and unaffectionate military stepfather. Carol also had a new baby half brother, Tommy, who worshiped his big sister and the feeling was mutual. This was a very tough time for Carol. She not only had a total home environment change, but was also forced to change schools her freshman year of high school as well.

Her beloved Grammie passed away in the middle of Carol’s junior year of high school. This was a crushing blow to Carol’s sense of security and her feeling of belonging. Little did she know or imagine at the time that she would also lose her precious little brother, Tommy, to a malignant brain tumor shortly after he turned seven.  Needless to say, Carol learned a great deal early on about the courage to fight on and to persevere through the crisis of circumstances.

In spite of her pain and struggles, she went on to graduate from Treadwell High School and was attempting to work her way through college, but had to drop out after one semester due to lack of finances and any parental support. At that time, she became a certified administrative assistant with Associates Loan & Capital Finance Company, where she developed financial management skills that have proven to be a valuable asset throughout her life.

And then she met Sam Wiley. Carol and Sam were introduced through one of her friends. They had their first date on July 4, 1964, and married September 25, 1964 at Union Avenue Methodist Church. Although the courtship was short, the love covenant was deep.

For several years the Wiley’s lived their lives as Sam’s proverbial “lost ball in high weeds.”  Then in the early 70’s, they met Jim and Kay Hartung, who were members of Central Church. The Hartungs invited them to come to a Bible study in their home. The study was taught by Paige Cothran a former Ole Miss All SEC football player. These three people paved the way to first Carol’s and then Sam’s salvation.

Kay was truly a chosen vessel that GOD used to answer Carol’s questions and clarify the need for personal salvation. Carol was saved about a year before Sam. The reality of her life changes evidenced by her love and patience with Sam, was the magnet GOD used to lead him to Christ. Sam fondly recalls that one of the most memorable statements Carol ever made, was when she looked Paige in the eye and said, with all innocence and sincerity, “Paige, I must really, truly be saved, because Sam and I went to the Memphis – Ole Miss football game on Saturday, and I didn’t even yell ‘Go to h—, Ole Miss’ a single time!!”

For Sam, Paige was the messenger of truth that, as hard as he tried to, he could not ignore.  He came to know Christ as his personal Savior on February 10, 1974.

It was also the Hartungs who convinced the Wileys to visit Central Church – and even though they had to drive from Whitehaven to Poplar where Central Church was located at the time, they were there twice on Sundays and every Wednesday night.

Sam began to work with the Central Church youth as a layman when Charles Heinz was the Youth Director. In 1978 on a youth trip to Florida, Sam felt a definite call from GOD to enter fulltime ministry.  He answered; he left his good paying job, and enrolled in seminary.  At that time, Carol went to work at Central as Charles Heinz’s secretary in the Youth Department and helped Sam graduate from the seminary and launch his ministry.

Sam graduated magna cum laude from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary at age 40. He was ordained into the Gospel ministry by the Elders of Central Church on New Year’s Eve in 1982 and came on the church staff in 1983. His first fulltime job was as the L.I.V.E. Singles Pastor. He initiated and founded that ministry in 1978 while still a seminary student.

In 1985, Sam and Carol left the “best singles ministry on the face of the earth” (quote from Sam) to accept a job as the Singles Pastor at First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Sixteen months into his new job, the church went through a horrible and bitter split. Their pastor of 20 years and all the staff were asked to resign.

At that time, Sam and Carol started Central Church of Fort Smith, a store front church with a congregation of about forty people. This was the biggest struggle and most trying time in their ministry journey. But, it was also one of the most precious times in their lives, because they truly came to an intimate fullness relationship with the Holy Spirit. It changed both their lives and their approach to ministry. The experience was truly like crawling through a desert and finally coming upon an oasis of life.  Sam says, “Fort Smith is a portion of my life that I would not take anything for, but I would not want to go through it again.”

In January 1991, Sam received a call from Pastor Jimmy Latimer. He wanted to know if Sam would be interested in returning to Memphis and his old job as Singles Pastor at Central.  Due to a staff member leaving, the position was available. Sam said, “Pastor Jimmy, I always pray about things like this, so give me five minutes and I will call you back and say ‘Yes!’”  So, Sam and Carol returned to Memphis on March 9, 1991 as the leaders of Central’s Singles Ministry.

In 1992, Carol went back to college and proceeded to graduate summa cum laude from Crichton College in 1995 (at the age of 50) with a degree in psychology, and began to pursue a career as a Christian counselor.
It was at that point that she connected with Citizens for Community Values (known as CCV) by doing some part-time counseling with the women they were trying to reach and help.  CCV is engaged in a fulltime effort to fight pornography, sex for sale operatives, and topless clubs in the Memphis/Shelby County metro area.  As the number of women needing, and seeking, help began to increase; the need for a fulltime ministry director could not be ignored, so a search for the qualified person was launched.

Carol came very close to not applying for the position because she did not have a master’s degree, but at the urging of George Kuydendall (Director of CCV) and others, she applied, and was miraculously chosen over several other candidates – including some with PhDs. This has proven to be a divine appointment for Carol and for CCV.   She is the director of The ‘A Way Out’ Program, a ministry that helps women who want to come out of the sex-for-sale professions, namely topless dancing and prostitution. She has an angelic ministry in the sense that she is a messenger, a defender, and a provider for the women she ministers to.

In 2009, Carol was featured in a book called, “Memphis – Profiles in Courage” which was published by the Main Street Journal magazine. Carol was chosen as one of the fifteen most courageous and impactful people over the last 20 years in the Memphis metropolitan area.  Although Carol has never pushed herself into the limelight, she and her program have been featured in local newspapers, World Magazine, and Main Street Journal Magazine, and she has made numerous guest appearances on local and national television and radio programs. One of her most moving ministry statements is from an interview she did with World Magazine:  “One way I see God working in my own life is that when a prostitute comes in my office, I don’t see what they have done, but I see what they can be – and I know that is because of Christ.”

Sam has served on Central’s staff for a combined total of 27 years. He served a total of thirteen years as Central’s L.I.V.E. Singles Pastor and he currently serves as the Director of Discipleship and Evangelism. Sam has taught the Helpmates connecting point class for over twelve years, and has been prominent in the development and support of Central’s Small Group Ministry.

Sam and Carol are shepherds at heart and people are their passion. They both want to serve God right up to the day that either, the undertaker calls, or the uppertaker (Jesus), comes again; and their prayer is to be a living “Rapture Saint.”  However, Carol sums up life this way, “When He comes, I go!”

[posted 2010]

Terry and Phyllis Burnside

I was born. I was. I was born on December 7, 1950 in Meridian, Mississippi. I was the second son of four boys. My father was Norris Bryan Burnside and my mother was Lois Slayton Burnside. Lois is mentioned in God’s Word when the Apostle Paul told Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now live in you also.”  II Timothy 1:4.

Growing up I had asthma. I almost died with it three times. It was hard to be around dust, pollen, smoke and many other pollutants. I could not play sports like I wanted to. I was limited physically, but praise God I was not limited spiritually.

I grew up attending Oakland Heights Presbyterian Church. When I was age 12, my Pastor, Rev. Strickland told me it was time for me to be baptized and to join the church. I wanted to please him, so when he asked me five questions – and I remember the first one was, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior” – I said “Yes.”  He had told me to say “yes” to all five questions. He baptized me and I joined the church. I was NOT saved and to this day I believe Rev. Strickland did an injustice to me. But, God is faithful and four years later, in April of 1966, when I was sixteen, I was truly born-again. Then when I was 17, The Lord spoke to my heart through a missionary film I saw in Highland Park in Meridian, and called me into ministry.  The verse that God used was, and still is, John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”  John 9:4 has been my life’s verse ever since.

After graduating from Meridian High School (with 480 others) I attended Meridian Junior College where I majored in accounting. In high school I really did well in business math and bookkeeping. I did not do as well in geometry and algebra. After the first semester, the Lord led me to consider going to Bible College and I started making plans to do just that. I dropped accounting the second semester and started taking classes that would transfer to Bible College.  My accounting teacher came to me and wanted to know why I had dropped out of accounting.  I told him my plans and he told me I was “Stupid.”  I wasn’t stupid in accounting but he believed I was stupid for going to Bible College.  It is so interesting that even today, I still cannot balance my checkbook.

When I was nineteen, I was off to Mid-South Bible College (now Crichton College). I weighed 91 pounds, had a 21-inch waist, and was still very sick with asthma. I remember going out behind the college, lying on the ground, looking up at the stars and praying, “Lord, if you want me to preach and teach then please remove my asthma from me.”  I was contemplating how difficult it would be to preach or teach having an asthmatic attack. That first semester, my medicine (an inhaler) dried up. The Lord removed asthma from me and by the end of the semester, I weighed 143 lbs. It was a miracle!!! To this day, I still praise the Lord for delivering me from asthma.

At Mid-South, I met Phyllis Ann Cummings and the rest is history.  We have been married (January 11 anniversary date) for thirty-seven years. Phyllis is the daughter of George and Nell Cummings. George is now with our Lord in Heaven. He was a godly and spiritual man. He was a great husband to Nell and father to Phyllis and her sister, Betty Wilkinson. We all miss George and his kind spirit. He was the best father-in-law a son-in-law could ever have. Nell is actively involved in the Faith Connecting Point Class, Senior Adult Wednesday Activity Day, Ruth Circle and many other activities and ministries at the church.

After attending Mid-South Bible College for 4 years and graduating with High Honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree and Phyllis with a Bachelor of Science degree, we went to Reformed Theological Seminary in Clinton, Mississippi (outside of Jackson) and earned the Masters of Divinity degree. During seminary we both served at D’Lo United Methodist Church and Bethany United Methodist Church (forty-five minutes south of Jackson off of Highway 45).  I can remember the superintendent of the Mississippi United Methodist Churches telling me not to make Presbyterians of the Methodists there. I said, “No, sir! I will just make them Christians!”  We made many friends there in D’Lo, Mississippi.

The next period of our lives was a great blessing. We were home missionaries for 8 years in Houston, Mississippi at Faith Bible Church. Central Church supported us financially and spiritually during those years. We were really involved in the community and I became known as the town’s pastor. I was on the radio and wrote a regular article for the local newspaper. We were able to minister to a congregation that started with 15 people and when we left, the church had grown to 141 on roll with a new church sanctuary and fellowship hall.  Central gave us the pulpit and half of the church pews from the early Poplar Avenue days and gave the other half to Gerry Smith (Central Church missionary to Mexico for many years . . . now with the Lord).

Central Church sent the choir to visit us three times and twice helped me with the preaching at evangelistic meetings. Several years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to Houston to ordain Johnny Cherry to the gospel ministry.  Then I was privileged to install him as Pastor of Faith Bible Church.

The next phase of our lives brought us to Memphis, Tennessee. On July 15, 1985 I came on staff at Central Church. This summer, July 15, we will celebrate twenty-five years on staff.  I worked with the Senior Adults the first two years. This was a great blessing in my life and the memory of those years of being loved, encouraged and supported in many ways still lingers in my heart.

Then, I served doing Pastoral Visitation for the next five years. God gave me a heart for ministry and I was exhorted that “Central Church is not a rest home for saints but a hospital for sinners.” Ministry was defined in my life in three areas: First, ministry as a pastor during times of bereavement; Second, in hospitals, especially surgeries; and Third, and finally, expressed in great joy as children are born.

For the remaining time on staff at Central Church until the current time, I have labored in Adult Ministries, Pastoral Ministries, Membership, and Outreach/Assimilation.

My spiritual gifts are service, mercy, giving and teaching. I see my work and ministry as service, encouragement and teaching. I see my ministry first under Don Gilbert, assisting him in areas of major church focuses, Discovery Process, and special assignments.  I see my ministry next aligned with Gene Sauls for membership…working to assimilate guests, helping in the membership process…interview, Discover Membership Class, Red Bags Welcome Table volunteers, and any other way I may assist Gene. I see my ministry in teaching the Discover Ministry Class as new members and potential members of Central Church are edified to equip them for ministry and through that support are given to all the work of the church.

I see my ministry in pastoral care helping with death notices, calls, and assisting Sharon Duborg in hospital care. Another area of pastoral care is helping with child dedications and working with Anne Clay in teaching a class for parents dedicating their children to Jesus Christ. Also, I see my ministry in teaching the class on baptism for parents of children to be baptized.

My wonderful wife Phyllis, who has had an equally busy life, has been an assistant teacher in the Shelby County School system for fourteen years. She is currently at Bailey Station Elementary School. Phyllis also teaches private piano lessons, and you have probably seen her in the Crosswalk Bookstore where she volunteers on Sunday mornings.

Phyllis and I have been blessed with four children, Terri Ann (Burnside) Mealer, Philip Lee Burnside, Patrick Edward Burnside and Taylor Andrew Burnside. After the Lord gave us our third child, Patrick, ten years passed and then Taylor came along as a big surprise and blessing and he has been that ever since his birth.

We are proud of all our children. Our daughter, Terri, is an assistant school teacher in DeSoto County. Her husband, Wade Mealer, is a graphic art designer at Wright Medical in Shelby County. Terri and Wade have our only grandchild, our granddaughter, Hallie Wade Mealer, age 9.  On Saturday, February 27 of this year at 2:35 p.m. in the afternoon, Hallie accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  We continue to rejoice over her decision to trust Jesus alone for her salvation!

Our son Philip married Melissa Moore. Philip is a manager at Taco Bell on campus at the University of Memphis in the new University Center building. Melissa is a third grade school teacher in Walls, Mississippi.
Our son Patrick is a sub-contractor of Comcast Cable and installs residential and commercial cable.

Our son Taylor is a sophomore at the University of Memphis.  He was the Tiger Mascot “Pouncer” during the 2009 season when the basketball team went to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.  He is majoring in theater and drama.

I am so happy to be able to contribute to the spiritual life and well-being of the church of Jesus Christ at Central. Our congregation is wonderful. The love and acceptance my family has received over the past twenty-five years is deeply appreciated.

Please continue to pray for me and my family. We are praying for you. Together we look for the “blessed hope” of Christ’s return, “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  (Titus 2:13)  My favorite verse in God’s Word is Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  My favorite passage of Scripture is I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Join with me in saying “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” to Christ saying “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20).   God’s Word ends with this verse and I will end this account too:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

[posted 2010]

Terry has since retired from staff at Central Church but is still involved with our congregation.