Baptist and Reflector
RIPLEY — Thomas Bester, founding pastor and church planter of Forerunner Baptist Church in Ripley, died Jan. 15 at the age of 68.
Bester joined the staff of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in 2017 as part-time new church catalyst. At the time of his death, he served as African American church relations specialist.
“Pastor Thomas Bester was a sweet spirited Christian gentleman who was a friend to all he met,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the TBMB.
“He was such a blessing to Tennessee Baptists for decades and a valued member of our TBMB team. This dear brother will be missed by so many,” Davis added.
Noting that Bester worked closely with African-American churches across the state, Roc Collins, strategic objectives director for the TBMB, observed that Bester “had a heart for evangelism. He desired to see people come to know Jesus.”
Collins also described Bester as “a great man of God, a pastor, a denominational missionary, a church planter and a dear friend. I will personally miss him as will the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. Surely, heaven is a little sweeter today.”
Bester was reared in Chattanooga. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and held a master of divinity degree from Carolina University of Theology.
In addition to Forerunner Baptist Church, Bester also planted two other churches — Hope of Glory Baptist in Brownsville and Forerunner Baptist in Covington.
Bester is survived by his wife, Shirley, and seven children. B&R