I mentioned yesterday that I had Pastored JBC for 45 years which got me to thinking about those still in the church who have been here as long or close to as long as me. The terms that I would use for them are enduring pillars and faithful friends. I seriously doubt whether I would still be here as the Pastor of JBC had it not been for their leadership, personal sacrifice, and hard work.
Jim and Janet Lee started attending while we were still meeting in the Jefferson Elementary School gym. Janet has led our children’s ministry for most of those years and has built it into a very successful ministry that has influenced hundreds if not thousands of kids who will be in heaven someday because of that influence. She is retiring from being the “Children’s Director” at the end of this year. I wonder how many hugs she is going to get in heaven as person after person enters glory because of her.
Jean Krause was one of the founding members way back in 1973 when Jefferson Baptist Church had their very first service in the “Conser House” with 20 people. Jean volunteered to do just about everything that needed doing in the early years, and it wasn’t very long before she became the church secretary. When we grew enough to have the finances, she became the first full-time staff member besides me, and worked with me typing and running off bulletins, typing my sermons, answering the phone, keeping my calender, and keeping everything organized and running smoothly. Jean is still serving as “Church Administator,” and my secretary helping me not forget what day of the week it is.
Cliff Duke, my younger brother, was also one of the founding members that met in the “Conser House.” He was the interim Pastor after the founding pastor left in 1975 until I came in 1976. Shortly after that he became the principal of our Christian School that ran for 30 plus years. He is now doing counseling at the church for whoever would like to meet with him for free.
Other key Saints are Raymond and Jennie Freitag, Gordon and Barbara Hilton, Stan and Betty Hilton, Bill and Carolyn Schutzmann, Dick and Lou Ellen Pearson, and Lloyd and Pat Smith. These guys have been the Church Elders over the last 40 plus years giving leadership, making decisions, managing the finances, holding me accountable, praying for many hours, and showing up to serve in so many different ways week after week after week.
Those 16 including Patty and I are the 40 plus year veterans. There are also a whole bunch of 30 plus year veterans, 20 plus, 10 plus, and 5 plus year servants of Jesus building His Body, His Church into a beautiful, eternal, Bride of Christ.
The last 45 years have been fun, challenging, and amazing. The best part has been building His Church together with other faithful people. It is amazing all that God can do through people who love each other and work together in humility and unity. It is sad to think about the fact that the core group of 16 is going to start shrinking in number until we are all gone. But what we have done will be remembered and built upon for many more years to come until Jesus comes.
The most disgusting thing about the present attitudes and philosophies of our country is that the memories that many people have of the past are of the bad and the ugly instead of the victories, the accomplishments, the beauty, and the amazing that can be built upon. So many are choosing to ignore and forget the accomplishments of all those that lived before them, it is an incomprehensible waste of so many people’s work and sacrifice.