My friend Don Davidson, who pastors Alexandria Virginia’s First Baptist Church as well as it’s ever been done, turns out an end-of-the-year retrospective which will serve as my model for what follows.
So, here’s my report on my (ahem) Retirement Ministry in this, my third year of unemployment….
Six revivals this year. In diverse and wonderful cities such as Ochlocknee, Georgia, Saragossa and Deatsville, AL, Mt Hermon and Crowville, LA, and Picayune, MS. I loved every one of them and made friends for life and beyond.
McComb and Columbus, MS. Zachary and Moss Bluff, LA. Linden and Grove Hill, AL. In banquets, I sketch people before, during, and after the meal, and at the appointed time get up and tell my stories, doing my best to be entertaining and inspirational. I have more fun than anyone there.
Senior Adult stuff.
Evidently, people think because I’m white-headed I must be old and therefore able to speak to senior adults. I go along with the ruse and take all invites.
I did single shot meetings at places as diverse as Bogue Chitto, MS, FBC-New Orleans, Van Cleave and Greenwood, MS, Ponchatoula, LA and Jackson, AL. But my very favorite senor things this year came in the Spring when the Kentucky Baptist Convention let me be the featured speaker at their annual “senior celebrations.” That week, we met on Tuesday in Hopkinsville, Thursday in Bardstown, and Friday in Richmond. This was a brand-new experience for me, exploring these cities and meeting these wonderful friends.
Later, this fall, the senior celebration for Missouri Baptists was held at their Windermere Assembly, and that was another incredible experience. I smile at the memory of that place and those wonderful people.
I preached in large churches (Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Jackson, and Covington, among others) and felt right at home. And in tiny churches–I’d name them but not sure that would be fair–and was not intimidated.
As one who used to drive down highways past churches and think, “What a lovely place. I’d sure love to preach there,” now I get to do that. And what a privilege it is. I’ve preached in some of the sweetest pulpits to some of the finest disciples of the Lord Jesus.
We were snowbound at my mom’s house in rural Alabama January 9-11, and I did love that. As a child, from ages 7 to 11, we lived in West Virginia and I never got the snow out of my system. So, when it snows now, I’m a kid again.
Then, on Wednesday April 27, when the tornadoes tore through Alabama and Tennessee, doing their deadly work, I was driving from mom’s house to Knoxville. Right through Cullman, to Gadsden, up to Chattanooga to Knoxville. In Alabama, my drive was after some of the tornadoes and just before others. In Chattanooga, I was there during the tornadoes. That was one of the most frightening drives I’ve ever had, and it will never be forgotten.
The first week of August, Professor Greg Woodward and I taught an intensive course for 45 masters level students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on “worship leadership.” To say it was one week is an oversimplification. Throughout the semester, the students turn in book reports and worship observations which we grade online.
Then, every Tuesday in the fall semester, Professor Jeanine Bozeman and I taught “Interpersonal Relationship Skills” for 15 masters students. What fun this was, and what a privilege to have a little input into such a gifted group of students who are well on their way to making a difference in the kingdom.
Only two weddings in 2011. And four funerals. Several associational events.
I ministered in Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, and Tennessee. My sweet little Camry, almost 3 years old now, has turned over to 90,000 miles.
In Don’s report, he tells the best book he read in the year, the most enjoyable movie, the most unforgettable people he met. I’ve been racking my brain on that. Honestly, most of the movies I saw–maybe a dozen total–have been forgettable. “The King’s Speech” was fascinating. And the two Sherlock movies.
As for unforgettable books, I may have to give that more thought and get back here. I’m just about finished with “The Sherlockian,” a novel about Arthur Conan Doyle and modern fans of the sleuth. It’s very good. I’ve read a lot of history books this year, mostly World War II types.
Unforgettable people? Hmm. I’ll have to get back to you.
How many people did I sketch in these months? No way to know. People sometimes expect me to tell them exactly how many I’ve drawn. But I’ve never tried to keep up with it, not even at a single setting. If I did an average of 500 a month, then we’re talking about 6,000 throughout the year.
It’s a great life, this retirement business. If I’d known how much fun it was going to be, I’d have gone straight into it from ordination.
Next year is upon us. I’ll start on January 8 preaching at First Baptist Hammond, LA, and then do a revival in Ocilla, Georgia, and preaching down the street from my house at Riverside Baptist Church. In March, I go to Italy to minister to pastors and wives at the annual retreat for leaders of the International Baptist Convention. How sweet is that! And in April, Margaret and I celebrate 50 years of married life by bringing in the family to the Roosevelt Hotel here in New Orleans and acting like we are really something!
And so it goes. God is good. All the time.