Someone asked me if I got bored doing the same thing all the time in retirement. I certainly haven’t been bored and started thinking about that. I seldom do the same thing.
The month of July offered me a huge variety as I preached in a Camp Meeting for 8 days, preached at the July 4th Church in the Pines, filled in one Sunday at a Southern Baptist Church, preached in a four night revival sponsored by Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians, preached at a little church in Mobile I had served 42 years ago, spoke to all of the football coaches, compliance persons, university relations, etc. for the Athletic Department at Alabama State University, did some television and radio recordings, met with some individual churches for consultation, had one-on-one sessions with several ministers, and had some days in the office for study and preparation.
I think it would be hard to get bored with that kind of variety of ministry. The venues were both exciting and challenging.
July 4 – Church in the Pines. This is a unique worship experience 9:00 a.m. on Lake Martin at Kowaliga Bridge. The outdoor chapel seats more than 600 people, and more than twice that many sit under the trees outside. People come by boats, seadoos, and cars. I have preached there one Sunday during the summer for the last 35 years.
July 4 – I preached at the Tallassee United Methodist church at 11:00 as the appointment of their new minister wouldn’t take effect until August. Even though I have “surrounded Tallassee” by living in Notasulga, Wetumpka, Opelika and Montgomery, I had never preached there.
July 9-16 – Preached at the Salem Camp Meeting located on Salem Road about three miles south of I-20 between Conyers and Covington, Georgia. The campground is over 175 years old. I know of no experience in Alabama like the Camp Meeting experiences in Georgia.
The tabernacle seats over 800 people. Visiting choirs from different churches come each night and each morning. There are about 30 cottages, some of which are over 75 years old. One cottage had 32 people staying in it.
I stayed at the hotel on the campground. Because I was going to be there for eight days and take all my meals in the dining hall, the dietician said to me, “Dr. Mathison we have visiting churches come in for each of the meals so we cook large meals three times a day. If feeding big three times a day would be hard on you I would be glad to fix you something lighter.”
I smiled and asked her to call me John Ed and the three big meals a day would be no problem for me. I would look forward to them! At the end of the week she said in the over 175 year history of the Camp Meeting I might be the pastor who enjoyed the food the most. I discovered that they fried over 1,200 pounds of chicken during the week. A lot of those chickens entered the ministry!
Go to the website, www.salemcampmeeting.org, and you will be fascinated by the pictures, history, schedule, etc.
July 18 – Preached at the Eastern Hills Baptist Church in Montgomery as Dr. Rick Marshall was taking a sabbatical for a few weeks. This church is very much alive. I had difficulty finding a parking place. It is exciting to visit a church in Montgomery on a summer Sunday and not be able to find a parking space.
July 25 – Preached at New Hope United Methodist Church at Fowl River, Alabama. The former church was called Fowl River Methodist and I served it for two years from 1968 to 1970 I was the pastor at South Brookley United Methodist Church and there was some concern about the future of this small church south of Mobile. I volunteered to preach there every Sunday morning at 9:00. It was a great experience for me. Today the church is strong and thriving under the leadership of a retired minister, Jessie Shackelford.
July 25-28 – Joe Pat Cox and I participated in a revival in Benton, Alabama, just this side of Selma. Each year the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians go together for a community revival. Every third year the Methodists are responsible for the preacher and the song leader. I have been invited to preach every third year for the Methodists for the last 36 years. This was my twelfth time. They invite Joe Pat every year to lead the singing for the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. Benton is a small area where so many of the young couples finish college and come back to Benton. It is great to be in a church like that that has many, many boys and girls and young people.
July 26 – I love being around coaches. I spent some time with the football coaches at Alabama State University. Coach Reggie Barlow and all of his coaches and the people in the University connected with football met at the Robert Trent Jones Center in Prattville for a day apart to kick off the football season. I enjoyed speaking to them.
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support. Every day is a great day for each of us to be alive and to serve our Lord.
Life should never be boring – I am discovering every morning the truth of God’s Word that says “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” Lamentations 3:23