I think there is some appropriateness to having pastor appreciation month happen in October. There’s Reformation Sunday, and more significantly Halloween. And sometimes there are definite connections to how scary it can be to serve in that position.
I thought I would take a moment to express gratitude to a few pastors in my life, those of who have taken both time and interest through the years to invest in my spiritual development.
Bob Simmons is one of the first who comes to mind. He was not officially my pastor, but was one of my seminary professors whom I went to church with while in New Orleans. He and his wife Mary were so encouraging while I was a student, and then it was a special blessing to maintain a relationship with them while we were in Meridian. He has a keen sense of humor and informed me that people had the capacity for great good but also for the opposite. Bob had great stories about the pastorate, the mission field, and life in general.
Joe Trull was another seminary type who served as a pastor to me, and still does from the Lonestar state. As a seminary professor, he encouraged me in my doctoral studies to learn more about women in ministry. This proved to be more important to me than I realized at the time, as with his support along with Drs Jeanine Bozeman, J. Terry Young and Paul Robertson, I wrote my dissertation on a feminist theologian’s concept of divine being and theological method. I still remember the quiet as I walked forward to receive my Ph.D. degree, as they read the title. Pretty amazing to do in a Southern Baptist seminary, but I had good teachers at the time.
I guess what I especially appreciated about these guys was that they came across as real people, which made me think that I might be able to serve in a similar fashion if I could be myself. They played tennis and were pretty good at it, which helped a bit too.
I want to give shout outs to Ben James in Prentiss, MS and Eric Hodge in Crossett, AR. Both of these guys serve as pastors and for the most part seem to be keeping their humanity at the same time. It has been good to have shared some great moments at NOBTS and afterwards keep our friendships going. Their churches, I hope, realize how good they have got it with these two in the pulpit.
AFter writing this, I realize that two of these men weren’t actually my “pastor” at all from the congregational standpoint. But, they did serve as pastors of churches through the years and remembering them now makes me realize how valuable it is to have a few people in ministry that you can trust completely. I hope these few that I have mentioned, plus the others that I know now here in Springfield, realize how much they have contributed to my life and to the lives of those around them.
I also want to thank Janet, our Minister to Families, for finding some artwork that looks remarkably close to something I could use as a profile picture on Facebook.