By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE — Nearly 200 people gathered July 13 to honor retiring minister Bill Highsmith on not only his last day of work, but his 80th birthday as well.
When Highsmith came to Tusculum Hills in 1991, he served as minister of recreation/activities and senior adults. Missions and education were added to his responsibilities later in his tenure.
“Bill has been a faithful servant of the Lord since day one,” said THBC pastor Paul Gunn “When the Family Life Center was built in the early 1990s, Bill was called to the church and fully outfitted the center with equipment and trained volunteers. He created a recreation program second to none.”
He noted that Highsmith was heavily involved in Baptist work long before he joined the staff at Tusculum Hills. “Bill is a product of everything Baptist.”
Gunn also credited Highsmith for “being the glue” that held the church together during some challenging and difficult pastor transitions. “Some of those times were unpleasant, but Bill helped the church pull through,” Gunn said.
The pastor observed that Highsmith “used his gifts, talent, and drive to create opportunities to share the gospel. He is quite a unique man who was in a unique place at a unique time in the history of the church.”
Rusty Sumrall, director of missions for Nashville Baptist Association, described Highsmith as a trailblazer in the area of church recreation and senior adult ministry in the Nashville area.
“He is one of the best in the country at what he has done,” Sumrall affirmed.
A video was shown during the celebration that highlighted personal greetings to Highsmith and many in attendance shared their love and appreciation for Highsmith’s ministry over the years.
Among his accomplishments at Tusculum Hills:
• More than 10,000 adults and children were reached by the basketball program.
• More than 50 mission trips and projects took place across Tennessee and the United States.
• Forty mission projects were held outside the United States in Barbados, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, Trinidad, Dominican Republic and Africa.
• The Strider’s Club was formed which has drawn more than 300,000 walkers to the church gym for physical fitness.
Highsmith stressed that everything done at Tusculum Hills happened because of the many church members and staff, including his assistant Kim Wood.
“Without the help of all the volunteers, the success of this ministry would not have happened. … When God’s people come together, much is accomplished in His name,” Highsmith noted.
The retiring minister thanked those attending the luncheon and noted that “it has been a pleasure to serve with you” during his 30-plus years at the church.
“This has been a good ride,” he affirmed. B&R — For more about Bill Highsmith, read Lonnie Wilkey’s Reflections HERE.