HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
This summer, as a result of a wide range of speaking engagements and other circumstances, I have had the privilege of seeing and spending time with several old friends. What a joy it was to be with them all!
On July 3, I spoke at the Dalraida church in Montgomery, AL. One of the long-serving elders there is Bob McKee. Bob also served in the Alabama State House of Representatives for a number of years. He and his wife Faye hosted me for dinner at a local restaurant that evening and it was a pleasure to spend time with them.
Bob was born and raised in Walton County, FL, the same county in which I spent my childhood and early boyhood days. I knew Bob’s mother and father and several of his brothers. His brother, Kerwin, preached for many years in the county. His youngest brother, Colin, served for a number of years as a missionary in Indonesia. I did not personally know Bob all that well, but I knew who he was and the kind of stock from which he came. He and his family attended the Liberty Church of Christ in Walton County where my father was the preacher. Bob says I was indirectly responsible for him becoming a song leader, in that one Sunday I did not show up at church with my father and Bob was drafted to serve in that capacity. We moved from DeFuniak Springs, FL in the summer of 1953 following my sophomore year at Walton High School. That fall, Bob came to Walton High; so, as he recently said to me over dinner, we went to the same school, only at different times. It was great spending time with Bob and his gracious wife.
On Sunday, July 7, Jan and I had lunch with our “old” friends, Alan and Sandra Highers in nearby Lebanon, TN. The four of us became friends during our college days at Freed-Hardeman College (now University) in Henderson, TN. (Actually, Alan and I first met at the Mid-South Forensic Tournament in Memphis, TN when we were seniors in high school, he at Harding Academy in Searcy, AR and I at Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, AL.) During our second year at FHC Alan and his roommate and I and my roommate shared rooms in a private home in Henderson. Alan and Sandra married in the summer of 1957 and Jan and I married that same summer. In a few days both couples will celebrate our 56th wedding anniversaries.
For over 30 years Alan has served as a judge on the Tennessee Court of Appeals. For the last several years he has been the presiding judge over the western sector of the court. Also, for the past 24 years he has been the editor of The Spiritual Sword, a quarterly journal dedicated to the advancement and defense of New Testament Christianity. Alan has given me the privilege of being a regular writer for this journal for many years. I value his long and trusted friendship. It is always a delight to be with him and Sandra.
On Monday evening, July 22, I spoke at the Hilldale Church of Christ in Clarksville, TN. Some of the members at Hilldale were members of the Madison Street church in Clarksville when I served that church in the mid-1960s. It was wonderful seeing them. Also present at Hilldale that evening was Margaret Smith with whom I was in school one year at Freed-Hardeman. Margaret was married to Leonard Smith (also a FHC classmate). Leonard was from Fresno, CA and was the great-grandson of the well-known evangelist, T. B. Larimore. For the last several years, before Leonard’s death in 2008, Leonard and Margaret had lived in Clarksville. Jan and I had dinner with them on a few occasions, and Leonard and I had lunch together only a month before his passing. It is always good to see and visit with Margaret.
Wednesday evening, July 24, I spoke as one of a series of speakers in a gospel meeting at the McEwen, TN Church of Christ where our good friends Hoby and Bonniegene Grace serve. Jan and Bonniegene became friends almost 20 years ago when Jan worked at Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL and Bonniegene was a student. They have remained friends since those days. Too, I have been going to McEwen for meetings for over 30 years and have come to love and appreciate the members of this fine church and to count them as wonderful friends.
On Thursday morning, July 25, following my Wednesday night speaking engagement in McEwen, Jan and I had breakfast with our dear friend, Steve Baggett, in Dickson, TN. (We are sorry that because of her work, Pam was not able to join us.) Steve is the minister of the Walnut Street church in Dickson and had just returned from a missions’ trip to The Philippines, resulting in 99 baptisms into Christ and the establishment of a new congregation. I have known Steve since he was eight years old when I became minister of the Madison Street church in Clarksville, TN. I baptized him into Christ when he was about twelve years old. Steve went on to become one of our very finest preachers. In 1977 when I was serving as minister of the Fairlane Church of Christ in Shelbyville, TN, we brought Steve and Pam to Fairlane for Steve to serve as our educational and youth minister and to direct our congregational singing. (In addition to being a superb preacher, Steve is an outstanding song leader.) It was Steve’s first full-time work with a congregation. I have often joked in Steve’s presence that if I had known he would later work with me as an associate minister that when I baptized him I would have held him under a lot longer! He and Pam are precious people and dedicated servants of Christ. Pam is a tremendous asset to Steve in every way, while still enjoying her own career as a guidance counselor in the public schools of Tennessee. It is hard to realize that they are grandparents!
One of the joys of life is maintaining long established friendships. That is especially true with reference to Christian friends. We have known and loved all of the above people for many years, and in some cases, well over 50 years!
July 31: GreenHillChurch of Christ, Mt. Juliet, TN
July 30, 2013