By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Jones reflects on country music legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and numerous others in the song.
The song is more than a question. It’s about life in general. Over the decades, country music singers have come and gone. Jones’ generation was one of the best ever when it came to country music.
Most of those giants have long since passed the scene (except for Willie Nelson who penned a song to make sure people knew “Still Not Dead”). They may be gone, but another generation has come along and taken their place.
The same question can be asked for our Tennessee Baptist churches and organizations. Who’s going to fill the shoes of those “giants of the faith,” both ministers and laypeople, who have faithfully served their Lord for decades?
That question was posed to me recently upon the death of Charlie Guthrey, a Knoxville layman who was known throughout not only the Tennessee Baptist Convention, but beyond for his volunteer contributions to TBC entities and churches.
Bill Choate, collegiate ministry specialist, for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, knew Guthrey well. When he learned of Charlie’s death earlier this month, Choate recalled that Guthrey was “a thoughtful, conscientious architect/engineer who gave himself and his skills to God’s ministry.”
While a student at Tennessee Tech, Guthrey was president of the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministry).
When the growth of the BCM ministry at Tennessee Tech required a major expansion of the facility, “Charlie was the natural one to design and oversee the work,” Choate said.
“When Charlie was in his 80s, and dealing with macular degeneration, he spent a year on site at UT-Knoxville leading a project to double the size of TBMB’s BCM facility there,” he added.
“Charlie and his wife Hazel have always been the consummate volunteers, giving themselves to ministry through their church — Central Baptist of Bearden — and building churches around the country. When you worked with Charlie, you learned quickly that he was serious about doing the work well. You also had to learn there was humor and the joy of faith behind that focused demeanor,” Choate recalled.
Guthrey will be missed as are countless other volunteers, especially in the area of disaster relief, who have died in the past few years.
Who are going to fill their shoes?
Volunteers are needed in every area of Tennessee Baptist life, from our conference centers/camps to our BCMs, to workers on our university campuses and our institutions such as the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and Adult Homes.
It’s going to take those volunteers who currently give of their time and talents to serve the Lord to pass that trait along to a younger generation.
In the past few years, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have intentionally partnered with Baptist Collegiate Ministry student teams. It has been a “win-win” for everyone involved. The students gain from the wisdom of the DR vets and the “old-timers” are energized by the enthusiasm and passion of the students. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s volunteers in our churches.
Christians, in general, need to be actively involved and intentional in bringing the next generation into positions of leadership in our churches and in our convention. We won’t be around forever, but our churches and God’s ministry will be around long after we’re gone, or until Jesus returns.
Who will fill our shoes?
— For more information about TBMB volunteer needs, contact Mark LeMay at firstname.lastname@example.org.