Thank you for your prayers and support for this ministry during the past couple of months. I wanted to share with you some of the things in which this ministry has been involved. I certainly felt your prayers as God poured out some big blessings.
April 4 – Spoke at the Stanhope Elmore Junior High School Christian students club at 6:30 a.m. Kim McNamara is the teacher responsible.
April 5 – WLBF invited me and Dale Huff to spend time praying for the pastors in the tri-county area for the Easter weekend. Dale retired from First Baptist and this is about the third year we have been invited to do this. A lot of pastors come and it is a special honor to pray for them.
April 10 – Led the Bible study for Governor Bentley’s cabinet at 7:00 a.m.
April 12 – Spoke to the Central Alabama Hospitality group. This is composed of people who help promote tourism in Montgomery. Present were the managers of most of the hotels, restaurants, etc. in the River Region. I really enjoy these opportunities for secular presentations for leadership in the community.
April 13 – Led the memorial service for Jim Bailey. He had been a long time member of Frazer. He had been the General Manager of Capitol Chevrolet. He was a good friend.
April 14 – Drove to Owensboro, Kentucky. Owensboro is Kentucky basketball country. A wonderful gentleman Larry Miller was my host for the weekend. He is a great leader in the church and the community. He played basketball at Kentucky. He played for Adolph Rupp and he scored the last basket in Rupp’s career. He is a great leader.
April 15 – Preached three times on Sunday morning at Settle United Methodist Church. It was their mission emphasis. One of their goals is to give 50% of all their budget to missions! I have a hunch they will exceed that. Sunday night I met with about 35 of their church leaders to talk about vision and planning and implementing ways to get lay people involved.
April 17 – This was a day of driving back from Owensboro.
April 18 – I officiated at the funeral of Mrs. Lucille Killough who was an active member of Frazer. Mrs. Lucille and I go back a lot of years. Her son John is a builder and had played a big part in building the house that we now live in.
April 21 – Traveled out to Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Wal-Mart.
April 22 – Preached two times on Sunday morning at the First Methodist Church in Bentonville and preached there on Sunday night. They have a special series each year. It was interesting in the fact I met four families who had formerly worshiped with us by television in different parts of the country, but now had retired to the Bentonville area. It was good to connect with people that use to be a part of the television family. Bentonville is a strong, growing church. The pastor there is Rex Dickey and he has given tremendous leadership. I really enjoyed his company as he showed me some of the Wal-Mart empire. Especially interesting in Bentonville is the store where Sam Walton started. It is now a museum. I thoroughly enjoyed following the history of the growth of Wal-Mart. When he thought about expanding from that first 5¢ & 10¢ Store, everybody told him he was crazy. He just didn’t listen – he went ahead and started another store, then another. Today, I think they have over 9,000 Wal-Mart stores. Bentonville also is home of one of the finest art galleries in the world. The art collection there is worth over $1 billion.
April 23 – This was a day of travel.
April 24 – I participated again this year to help raise money for Family Promise. About five of us, including the Mayor, other politicians and television personalities, waited tables at Mr. Gus’s. All of the tips went to this ministry. I wasn’t very good at serving the tables, but we did very well in raising money for a great cause.
April 26 – I have always enjoyed participating in the Hitchcock Award committee. This is a great program of the Y.M.C.A. The young man selected as the outstanding Christian scholar-athlete for the city of Montgomery was Lucas Tribble. The touching thing is that his brother who has Down syndrome came running up to the stage and hugged him and was so proud of him. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.
April 27 – I enjoy a quarterly meeting of our former staff people who have retired. We simply meet at a restaurant and spend some time remembering our ministry together in the past, but also sharing what God is presently doing. It is very special to me to be with people with whom I spent so much time in ministry.
April 29 – I preached at Auburn United Methodist Church at all three morning worship services. My brother, George, is the pastor there. It is one of the most exciting churches anywhere. They keep purchasing more and more property around them and expanding. The best part of the worship service is that George’s wife, Monteigne, does the children’s time. The children’s sermon has become the highlight of the worship experience! It certainly was on April 29th.
I then drove back to Montgomery. Dr. George Hunter, one of the most prolific authors in the United Methodist Church, and former Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of Missions and Evangelism at Asbury Seminary, met me in Montgomery and we drove together to Tampa, Florida to the General Conference. Chuck and I actually roomed together for three years in seminary at Emory and then we both decided to continue with another graduate degree from Princeton. His latest book has just come out. It focuses on how the Methodist Church can again become a movement. These were actually the Denman Lectures that he delivered. He goes back to basic Wesleyan theology and practices and advocates implementation of those today if the Methodist Church is going to reverse and again become a movement. He gave me the privilege of writing the forward to his new book.
April 30- May 3 – Attended the General Conference meeting in Tampa. This is the governing body of the church. I was invited by the United Methodist Publishing House to speak to a luncheon one day, along with three Bishops, concerning the books we had written and then had a book signing. I also had two days where the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy sponsored an opportunity for the 15 candidates for bishop in the southeast to speak 5 minutes each to the delegates from the southeast. We will be electing 5 bishops at Jurisdictional Conference. I am chairman of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and both the process of the election and the assignment of the bishops is our responsibility. Please pray for me and that committee in this endeavor.
May 5 – Drove up to Boone, North Carolina. I was fortunate to have my son, Si, go with me and do the driving since I had just had four long trips in a row.
May 6 – Preached at the morning worship services at the Methodist Church. A couple of former Frazer members, Ralph and Rickey Jacobs, were part of the inviting team. On Sunday morning I had three other couples come up to me and say that they had been members of Frazer at some time in the past. Jason Byassee is the pastor. It is in the Appalachian State University community. The Samaritan’s Purse ministry, headed by Franklin Graham, is headquartered in Boone. We drove home that Sunday afternoon.
May 10 – I serve on the River Region Sports Commission. We had a big press conference to introduce the multiplex building at Cramton Bowl and to announce that Montgomery will host what could be the premiere college all-star football game next January 19. It will televised by CBS.
May 15 & 16 – Led a group of pastors from across the country who are part of the Matrix Connexion, a ministry developed by Dr. Maxie Dunnam and his daughter Kim Reisman. This is the third group that has come to Montgomery for a two-day stay. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and interacting with them.
May 18 – Prepared video for Jerry Kemp’s homegoing celebration. I was in Missouri at the time of the service. Jerry had the vision for television ministry at Frazer. Under his leadership Frazer worship was carried on WSFA locally, then on ACTS Network and ISPN nationwide each week. He took the challenge of translating our worship service to Russian and was shown on Sunday mornings in St. Petersburg, Russia. He also opened the door to broadcast throughout Europe because a channel wanted English speaking programs for Europeans to practice speaking English. Jerry loved saying that the English model was “Southern speaking Methodists from Alabama.” Jerry also led in securing a license for a 24-hour low power television station. WREZ, Frazer Christian television, is the result of Jerry’s leadership. His impact “behind the scenes” touched the lives of so many people.
May 19 – Left early Saturday morning to fly to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I had a session for leaders and pastors from several different denominations on Saturday evening.
May 20 – Preached at the General Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau. The pastor is Luther Rhodes. He is such a delightful person. I have been with the General Baptists on several occasions and Luther and I have always related so well. He loves to play racquetball. He has a passion for ministry. He has pastured the largest churches in the General Baptists connection. Sunday afternoon I left Cape Girardeau about 4:00 in a six seater airplane to go to St. Louis. The flight from St. Louis to Atlanta was quite late and arrived about midnight. You can imagine the long line of people who had missed their flights and Delta trying to find a hotel room for everybody. I got into the hotel room about 2:00 a.m., then had to be back at the airport at 6:30. Delta must get some kind of good deal on a short night stay at the hotels. I was able to fly back to Montgomery on Monday.
May 21 – I was able to fly out of Atlanta early Monday morning. I had helped put together a meeting for a lot of pastors at noon on Monday. I got back in time for that.
May 22 – I was a part of a special event at the Lilly Baptist Church here in Montgomery. The pastor, Dr. Thomas Jordan, and I have swapped pulpits several times. This was an event to help educate people about various aspects of legal work and justice issues.
May 29 – Officiated at the funeral of a good friend Bobby Jack Armstrong. He had fought throat cancer for about seven or eight years. He was widely respected throughout the Montgomery area. Bobby was a person who helped get this ministry off the ground. He was always interested in what God was doing through the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries.
Tuesday night I served as Master of Ceremonies at a fundraiser dinner for the ministry of Siran Stacey, former great Alabama football player. I thoroughly enjoyed the event because so many of Siran’s teammates and former players were there. One of the speakers was Antonio Langham, who you see so often on ESPN with the big play he made to turn around the 1992 football season, and eventually led to a National Championship. Kevin Turner, a great player at Alabama and in the pros, is now fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He gave a very touching testimony. The main speaker was Coach Gene Stallings. He is a great speaker. He delivered a message that was one of the best “sermons” that I have heard. It was a challenge about helping those in need and about giving and about investing your life in something that really counts. He made the statement more than once that the most important thing any parent can do is to be sure that their kids have eternal life with Jesus Christ! Now he is one of the most successful football coaches – but he has a strong commitment to sharing the gospel. I loved having the opportunity to introduce these people and hang out with them. You can go to Siran Stacey’s website and see the great ministry he is doing.
The two months afforded a variety of opportunities. I thank God for that. I also know that God has a lot of opportunities in store for this summer. Please pray for our Board members, for Linda Poole, and for me as we try to follow God’s call in this ministry. Thank you for your prayers and support.