Honoring the ‘Most Valuable Man'

Cenia Merriex, left, founder of the Inspirational Daughters of Joy, a singing group, sings at the celebration honoring Pastor Thompson.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.

The congregation at Jesus Christ of Nazareth Worship and Praise Temple were told to honor the pastor of the church as their "Most Valuable Man."



Pastor: Elder Henry Thompson.
Location: 436 NW 2nd St.
Services: Sunday School is 10 a.m., followed by morning worship at 11:30 a.m. Prayer meeting and Bible Study are 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Phone: 352-371-4005.

On Sunday morning, the church at 436 NW 2nd St. celebrated the 25th anniversary of its leader, Elder Henry "BeBe" Thompson.

Pastor Charles Perry of Liberty Chapel Baptist Church in Reddick delivered the sermon and the service featured performances by saxophonist Wanda Cobb of Port St. John near Titusville, members of the Inspirational Daughters of Joy and Leon Young & Praise, both of Gainesville.

Also, Jarrett Webster, a member of the church, talked briefly about what having Thompson as his pastor means to him. Webster also used Psalm 37:23-24 to describe Thompson as a pastor.

"His calling as a servant of God is to preach the word of God, teach the word of God and to be a comforter to the unbelievers who come to the door who are lost," said Webster. "Count the years. They speak for themselves. Twenty-five years."

Minister Victor A. Bradley of Jesus Christ of Nazareth presided over the program and praised God throughout the service.

"I thank God for a praying mama," said Bradley, after the Daughters of Joy sang several songs, including "Take A Trip on that Good Old Gospel Ship" and "Jesus Will Fix It."

Bradley said he grew up in Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Gainesville and remembers when his mother would start crying when Cenia Merriex, a founding member of the Daughters of Joy, would sing "Jesus Will Fix It."

"I didn't know why my mama used to start crying until I grew up and got to know Jesus for myself," he said.

Perry delivered an awe-inspiring message using scripture from Acts 4:10-14 on the subject, "The Most Valuable Man in Town."

Talking directly to members of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Perry told them to understand that Thompson is the most valuable man in their lives because he is their pastor. He said Thompson was a great basketball player at former all-black Lincoln High School in the mid-1960s whom God chose to have an impact on others spiritually.

"You were a great distance shooter who could should shoot the rock from deep in the corner, but God pulled you out of that and had something else for you to do," Perry told Thompson.

Perry, who said he loves to follow basketball, said Thompson could "shoot the rock" just as good as any present-day or former NBA player.

"God took the basketball out of his hands and put the Bible in his hands," Perry said. "What God has given him, the devil out of hell can't take away."

Perry used the text from his sermon to describe how some men of God whom others deem to be "unlearned and ignorant" are actually more equipped to preach the word of God because they have not been influenced by seminary professors.

He said preachers must do their jobs the way God has declared for them to do and for them not to worry about what others think about them. He told Thompson and the parishioners in the church not to worry about what "Negroes" say about them, adding that he almost wanted to use the other "N" word.

Perry said the crux of his text was about a lame man who sat outside the church for 40 years without anybody from inside the church checking on his needs. He said there are a lot of churches today that are guilty of the same thing — not committed to checking on the souls outside the church.

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