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Role reversal draws one woman closer to her parents — and to God.

SYLACAUGA, Ala. — The little girl tugged at her father’s leg.

“Don’t go, Daddy,” she begged. “Don’t go.”

Jack Zorn — known to generations in Churches of Christ as “The Man in the Red Jacket” who founded the Lads to Leaders program — was leaving to speak at a church in another state. His daughter Rhonda wanted him to stay home and play.

First part: 'He's with me, and he's fighting,' brain-injury victim's wife says“Dad sat in the floor and explained his commitment to the church and supporting his family,” Rhonda Fernandez recalled. “He said, ‘Rhonda, you don’t want me to disappoint all those people expecting me and not do my work, do you?’”

Decades later, Fernandez, now 53, found her role reversed as she explained to her parents — who entered hospice care a year ago — that she had to go home to Orlando, Fla., after six weeks at their central Alabama home.

Jack Zorn, 81, is mostly blind, has hearing difficulties, battles regular strokes and sleeps between 20 and 21 hours a day. Besides that, he has an arthritic hip that causes severe pain.

Frances Zorn, 79, suffers from heart problems and dementia. The extent of her memory loss fluctuates from day to day.

Both Zorns were in a serious car wreck in 2009 that exacerbated their health concerns.

“I needed to go home to my job, my dog, my own kitchen, my church family and, most of all, my precious husband, Halo,” said Fernandez, a member of the Concord Street Church of Christ.

But when Fernandez broke the news that she was flying home the next day, her mother wept and said she couldn’t sleep if Rhonda weren’t there. Her father assured her Halo would understand if she stayed just a little longer. Get him on the phone, Jack Zorn urged.

“My heart just hurt,” Fernandez said. “My dear husband knows this is a season of life and is supportive, but he is sacrificing deeply. It seems I live in two states. That same Jack and Frances two years ago would have said, ‘We enjoyed your visit, Blondie, but you need to get home to your husband.’”

Jack and Frances Zorn hold hands while wearing matching red coats during last year’s Lads to Leaders annual convention in Nashville, Tenn. (PHOTO BY HALO FERNANDEZ)


Gut-wrenching. Sobering. Scary. All-consuming.

Fernandez uses all of those adjectives to describe the role she has assumed overseeing her parents’ around-the-clock care.

But she’s quick to point out that she’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Others include the caregivers who change her parents’ undergarments, the nurses and doctors who make house calls, the homecare beautician who fixes her mother’s hair, the neighbors who help with yard work, the police chief who changes the batteries in her parents’ GPS bracelets and the Broadway Church of Christ members — led by Mike Perry — who deliver the Lord’s Supper each Sunday.

“She keeps saying, ‘It’s not about me,’” said Resa Byrd, Fernandez’s older sister, whose husband, Herbert Byrd III, serves as an elder of the Maryville Church of Christ in Tennessee. “However, I will tell you that I think she’ll have a special place in heaven for what she has done and is doing for my parents. It consumes her life, and she loves them the way Christ loved us.”

Said Fernandez: “It seems common for one sibling to be most involved, and the support of the other siblings is so helpful. I cannot imagine how conflicted I would be if I did not know my sister Resa was always there for support when needed. She is my prayer warrior and is encouraging me habitually.”


As Rhonda Fernandez welcomes a visitor to Jack and Frances Zorn’s home, the husband and wife sit in the living room — surrounded by family photos and other mementos of 58 years of marriage.

Prized picture frames show political heroes such as Ronald Reagan and a Christian Chronicle clipping featuring “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, whom the couple enjoy watching on television.

“What if I fall?” asks a wall hanging. “Oh, my darling, what if you fly?”

Jack and Frances sport matching, long-sleeved T-shirts with a photo of themselves emblazoned on front. In the picture, both are in wheelchairs, holding hands and wearing red jackets at a Lads to Leaders event.

“If I am lost find Jack,” says the message on Frances’ shirt.

“I am Jack,” says the note on his.

Look closer, and a camera — one of eight that Fernandez had installed in every room except the bathroom — shines on the couple.

Whether in the next room or 500 miles away in Florida, the Zorns’ daughter can keep an eye on her parents — and their caregivers — via her smartphone and her tablet computer.

“Technology is fantastic,” Fernandez said. “At night — if they are having a bad night — I can put in an earpiece. Then I sleep sort of light, and I can hear them toss and turn and an occasional faint snore.

“But then if there is a weird noise, it wakes me up. Then I can text the caretaker in the next room, you know what I’m saying. I know it’s a little compulsive.”

Her husband, Halo Fernandez, teases her about that compulsiveness, even as he tracks the Zorns’ movements himself.

One night, Rhonda Fernandez was in bed at her parents’ house when Halo called from Orlando.

“Your dad’s doing his leg like he does when his hip’s hurting,” Halo said. “He needs a pain pill.”

“Oh, thank you, honey,” Rhonda said, grabbing a pill and water for her father.

About 30 minutes later, her phone rang again.

“I think your father’s throat is parched,” Halo joked. “He might like some lemonade.”

“Stop watching my parents,” she replied with a chuckle, “and go to bed.”


A decade ago, the Zorns retired and moved to Frances’ hometown of Sylacauga, a Bible Belt community of 13,000 about 50 miles southeast of Birmingham.

The daughters’ earliest memories involve their dad behind the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

Saturday nights were filled with “baths, hair-curling sessions, ironing of clothes and early bedtimes,” Resa Byrd said, “because we all knew that Sunday was the day we honored God by looking our very best.”

Jack Zorn was raised on a sharecropper’s farm in Geneva County, Ala. His father suffered from alcoholism, and his mother struggled to instill Christian values in the family. At age 17, Jack Zorn was baptized at a gospel meeting. He later attended Alabama Christian College (now Faulkner University) in Montgomery, where he met fellow student Frances.

Zorn was preaching in Warner Robins, Ga., in 1968 when the elders asked him to develop a leadership training program for the congregation’s young people.

That Sunday class for eight boys grew into Lads to Leaders, which annually draws a combined 20,000 boys and girls to a half-dozen convention sites across the nation. Frances Zorn’s younger brother, Roy Johnson, now serves as executive director.

In the summers, the entire Zorn family hit the road in a Dodge camper to promote Lads to Leaders.

By Fernandez’s count, those trips took her to at least 27 states. Her father encouraged her to make impromptu speeches in as many states as possible. She reckons that contributed to her interest in politics — including later serving on Reagan’s advance team.

The Zorns timed their driving so they could be sure to attend worship services — wherever they were — on Sunday and Wednesday.

“We’d be in that camper, and we’d have that ‘Where the Saints Meet’ book, and we’d flip through and see where we were going to be and what time,” Fernandez said.

Now, she is the person who must tell her parents that — unless they’ve had an exceptional week healthwise — they can’t go to church.

“Neither of us can drive, so we have to depend on other people driving us or carrying us,” Jack Zorn said. “And we go as often as we have a way.

When we don’t, somebody brings us the Lord’s Supper.”

“It’s not just the driving part,” his daughter interjected. “They’re a fall risk.”

It’s just too risky — particularly when Fernandez is in Florida — to attempt taking Jack and Frances to worship, she said. The daughter wouldn’t want a caregiver or church member feeling responsible if her parents left and got hurt.

“It makes me sad,” Jack Zorn said of not being able to attend.

“And that breaks my heart,” his daughter said.

Her dad, she pointed out, is a big man and can become wobbly.

“Daddy, what are you — 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4?” she asked.

“Six-foot-two,” he responded.

“I’m sorry,” Fernandez said. “He seems like a giant to me.”

In her eyes, he will always be a giant in faith — and she counts it a blessing that their only real argument concerns his desire to worship God.

Frances Zorn smiled and listened to the conversation but spoke little. Her daughter gently rested her left palm on her mother’s right hand.

“I’ve become the annoying ‘no’ child,” Fernandez said. “No, Dad, you have to use your walker. No, Dad, you cannot leave the house without your wheelchair because remember what happened last time. No, Mom, you cannot shower alone because it’s not safe.

“Mom, the church called and notified me your driving had become unsafe, and I need your keys.”


When Fernandez first realized her parents couldn’t care for themselves, she contemplated moving them to Orlando to live with her.

But an expert at Alabama’s Helen Keller School for the blind and deaf cautioned against taking her father away from his familiar surroundings, where he already knew the floor plan and felt comfortable.

Well-meaning friends and fellow Christians tell Fernandez she should put her parents in a nursing home.

“Those decisions are so incredibly personal, and each family has its own set of unique circumstances,” she said. “I am not judging others for their choices, but I want to keep my parents in their own home as long as humanly possible.”

Resa Byrd said it’s important for those who don’t assume the brunt of the load to support and encourage the one who does.

“Other family members simply must support that sibling with unconditional love, patience and trust,” Byrd wrote in an email. “Unless you are the one who handles the doctors’ visits, the financial decisions, the schedules, the phone calls, the emotional needs, then you don’t need to ‘gift’ your sibling with advice (unless solicited) or criticism for their decisions.”

Moreover, she said, “Every family member should contribute, love, visit and engage in their parents’ lives. Being nothing more than a ‘visitor’ is the easy way out. Every family member can roll up their sleeves, wash some dishes, mop a floor, throw laundry in the washer, rake some leaves, pay a bill or do something more than drop by.”

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In a death-row murder case, all the potential black jurors — including Eddie Hood — were excluded.

ROME, Ga. — Eddie Hood chuckles when discussing his newfound celebrity status.

Hood, 75, serves as an elder for the 125-member Callahan Street Church of Christ in this northwest Georgia city of 36,000.

He worked for a paper mill for 33 years, but now he’s enjoying retirement.

I showed up at Hood’s house — painted bright yellow with a U.S. flag flying by the front door — after seeing his name in national news reports.

Hood, it turns out, was as surprised as anybody when he ended up in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some background: In 1987, Hood was a potential juror for a capital murder case in which Timothy Tyrone Foster, an 18-year-old black man, was charged with killing Queen Madge White, a 79-year-old white woman.

However, prosecutors used challenges to remove all four prospective black jurors — including Hood.

More than a quarter-century later, Foster’s attorneys seek a new trial on the basis of “purposeful discrimination by the prosecution in securing an all-white jury.”

In the penalty phase, prosecutor Stephen Lanier urged the jury to sentence Foster to death to deter other people “out there in the projects.”

The nation’s high court heard arguments in the case in November — and Hood figured prominently.

According to the defense, prosecutors first claimed they objected to Hood because he had a son about the same age as the suspect. However, the jury included two whites with sons in the same age range.

Later, prosecutors blamed the strike on “Hood’s affiliation with the Church of Christ.” The church, they claimed, “definitely takes a stand against the death penalty.” But the district attorney’s own notes acknowledge the church leaves the issue to individual members, the defense responded.

For his part, Hood said he didn’t dwell on being excluded.

“Being in the Lord’s church, I don’t take something and build it in my mind to have any animosity,” he said. “But when I came home, I told my wife (Elnora), ‘More than likely, they’re not going to want too many of ‘us’ on the jury.’”

By “us,” he meant people of color.

Given the decades that have passed, Hood couldn’t recall if the district attorney quizzed him on his religion. But when I asked if he had a problem with the death penalty, he quickly replied, “Oh, no.”

When Foster was convicted, Hood heard about it. However, he didn’t realize an all-white jury had rendered the decision. He figured a few blacks had remained on the jury.


Eddie Hood visits with The Christian Chronicle at his home in Rome, Ga., (PHOTO BY BOBBY ROSS JR.)But before the recent hearing, Foster’s attorneys contacted Hood.


Then the media — including a reporter and a photographer from The Associated Press — came calling.

Before long, friends at the library were teasing Hood about being on the front page of the newspaper. And he couldn’t believe his eyes when the headlines scrolling across his television included his own name.

Hood grew up in the Jim Crow era of segregation, so racial issues are not new to him.

In his hometown of Cave Springs, Ala., blacks had to go in the back door of the café. As a teen, he was bussed 16 miles each way to an all-black high school. At the movie theater, blacks sat in the balcony, while whites had seats down front.

In 1963, Hood’s younger brother James Hood and fellow student Vivian Malone gained notoriety when Gov. George Wallace blocked their entry to the University of Alabama.

Wallace later capitulated and allowed James Hood and Malone to enroll after President John F. Kennedy federalized several hundred members of the Alabama National Guard. (James Hood — one of Eddie Hood’s eight younger siblings — died in 2013 at age 70.)

Eddie Hood, the great-great-grandson of a slave, said his mother taught him not to hate white people but to be careful around them.

Hood’s grandson Brandon Rucker, a member of the Jacksonville Church of Christ in Alabama, can’t recall his grandfather talking about race with him.

“We were just, I guess, raised properly, and it just never seemed to be an issue,” Rucker told me when I met him at a Jacksonville worship assembly. “When I brought home friends from school and whatnot, he would just compliment me being around good people, regardless of race. Color was never mentioned. It was never an issue at all.”

Like his grandfather, Rucker was surprised to see Hood making news. (Rucker leads singing in the below video).


“It’s a little unsettling to know that race is still used as a criteria for either accepting or rejecting jurors,” said Rucker, who was unaware of the case until reading news reports. “That should be a non-issue as well.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule before its current term ends next June. Hood is curious to see what the justices decide.

Meanwhile, he takes pride in helping knock down racial barriers closer to home.

“My neighbor here put up a fence when I first moved in,” Hood said as he walked me to my car. 

Eventually, though, he and the white neighbor became friends — and the fence disappeared.

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Down to less than a dozen members, a congregation in rural Oklahoma faced death. Its minister prayed for God’s will, and the church found that it possessed the keys to growth.

p17 sundayservice 0815CARNEGIE, Okla. — Bryce Marshall was ready to call it quits. 
So was his church.
The 27-year-old was “burned out, tired, frustrated and seeing no results,” he said, after nearly two years as part-time preacher for the Carnegie Church of Christ — his family’s home for three generations.
In its heyday, the church in this dusty, western Oklahoma farm town of about 1,700 people boasted 120 souls in its pews. But that was the late 1970s. The church had declined ever since, said Marshall’s father, Greg. 
By 2013, Sunday attendance was less than a dozen. 
“I never dreamed we would ever get in the situation of having 10 to 12 people,” Greg Marshall said. “I’ll be honest, we were just sitting there kind of like we thought we were on an island. Everything got negative.”
The silver-haired saints who remained consoled themselves by saying, “No one wants to hear the Gospel,” and the like, Greg Marshall said. They talked about selling the building, buying a van and busing everyone to a church in Fort Cobb, about 11 miles east.   The church could have been one more casualty of a shrinking fellowship. In the past quarter-century, Churches of Christ declined by 165,177 souls — or 9.8 percent — according to the 2015 edition of “Churches of Christ in the United States,” published by Nashville, Tenn.-based 21st Century Christian.  The 2015 directory lists 147 fewer Churches of Christ in the U.S. — 10 fewer in Oklahoma — than its previous edition in 2012, The Christian Chronicle reported recently.
Marshall’s wife, Margarite, remembers how disillusioned her husband had become in those darks days two years ago. Pregnant with their first child, she told him, ”Something’s got to give. Either you just quit and we go somewhere where we can get spiritually fulfilled and not aggravated … or we need to change it.”
“About that time,” she said, “God started opening all these doors and windows for us.” FRUSTRATION, DREAD AND A PRAYER WALK That first door wasn’t in the church building. 
On a hot July afternoon in 2013, Jim Weaver strolled into Carnegie’s NAPA auto parts store, where Bryce Marshall works. It’s a family business opened by his grandfather 50 years ago.
Weaver had been all over town, asking folks who preached for the Church of Christ. His search led him here.
“I had no idea what he wanted.” Bryce Marshall said. 
He asked Weaver to join him in the store’s office.
 “I’ve always been very conscientious about what people would think about me preaching,” he said. “I’ve never been a heathen or anything, but I’ve always felt like people might say, ‘Who are you to be a preacher? You’ve got no training. You’re just a regular guy.’”
He didn’t even know what to preach about on Sundays, he told Weaver, so he just focused on what he was going through in his life.
Weaver’s response: “You’re on track. That’s what people are looking for: relevance and honesty.”
Weaver, a member of the Oakcrest Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, once served as a missionary in Portugal. Now his mission field included the small towns of western Oklahoma. He founded a nonprofit, Rural America Ministries, to help churches reach and revitalize their communities through the Gospel. 
The two agreed to stay in touch and talk about ways to revitalize the Carnegie church. In the months that followed, Weaver made regular visits and invited Bryce Marshall to lunch. 
At first, little changed. Margarite Marshall gave birth to their son, Kohen, and Bryce Marshall had to move his desk and the computer he used to write sermons into the laundry room of their rent house.
“I just got to where I loathed going in there,” Bryce Marshall said. The work took time away from his son. He also began to dread the text messages from Weaver inviting him to lunch. On one visit, in March of 2014, Weaver didn’t even want to eat. He just wanted to walk around the city park — and pray.
“And I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding me? I haven’t eaten,’” Bryce Marshall recalled. “I’m walking around town, where everybody knows me, and they’re all looking at these guys who are just talking to thin air.”
Soon, he began to realize that “I was holding onto the Christian coma we had gotten into,” Bryce Marshall said. “We had the habit of huddling up together and patting ourselves on the back — ‘well, you’re doing good, you’ve figured it out, you go to the right church, you’ve been baptized’ — instead of just reaching out to everybody. It wasn’t looking like the New Testament church.”
By the end of the prayer walk, “I started letting go of the frustration” he said, “and accepting that maybe God had a little different plan for us.”
He did. A YOUTH GROUP OF ONE The Carnegie church’s revitalization didn’t start with a miraculous catch of new souls. 
And it didn’t start on Sunday morning.
J.W. Prather, a member of the nearby Mountain View Church of Christ, was attending the Carnegie church’s Wednesday night Bible study because the start time, 7 p.m., was convenient. His daughter, son-in-law and 12-year-old grandson had recently been baptized and came along.

 Margarite Marshall watched the grandson, Brennan, struggle to follow along with the adult Bible class.
“He was bored out of his mind,” she said, “so I talked to Bryce and said, ‘I’ve got to do something about this. He’s baptized. He’s got to be fed, too.’ So we started a Bible class for him.”
After a few weeks, a woman who had been visiting the Carnegie church brought her 7-year-old grandson, Julian, doubling the size of the youth class. Julian, his mother and his siblings had been attending a nearby Baptist church that offered pizza and games on Wednesday nights. But Julian loved Margarite Marshall’s class and begged to come back. Soon, his entire family was attending — and members of his extended family. The youth Bible class swelled to 11.
Three months prior, Bryce Marshall had considered canceling the church’s Wednesday night service, he said, “and now we had more on Wednesday night than we had on Sunday.”
After a few months, Julian’s mother, Julia Chavez, started bringing her family to Sunday morning services as well. Julian and his cousin, Alan, were baptized. Bryce Marshall asked Julia Chavez if she could sense a difference in her walk with God since she started attending. She said she could.
Why? “Because you guys speak from the Bible,” she said. “Your study and lessons are from the Bible, and that’s it.” ADOPTING A COMMUNITY As the Bible class grew, Jim Weaver and the Marshalls started looking for ways the Carnegie Church of Christ could reach out to its community. 

Weaver learned that the city had purchased new playground equipment for a park near the church building but needed workers to assemble it. Weaver put together a team of students in the Rural America Ministries program for the task. The church promoted the new playground equipment in the local newspaper. 
Later, the church hosted a fall festival in the park, with assistance from students at Oklahoma Christian University
Margarite Marshall launched an “adopt-a-grandparent” program to connect the church’s influx of children with its senior saints. Now the excited children run into the church building and hug their adopted grandparents. 
A new spirit of community exists in the congregation, she added, and with it has come baptisms and visitors. On a recent Sunday, attendance was 52. 
Looking back, the couple sees God at work, bringing Weaver into their lives, challenging them to look for new opportunities — just as new souls began to show interest in the church.
“It could have been like every other time someone walked in those doors — they would have walked right out,” Bryce Marshall said. “But God had the timing all lined out to where, when that door was open, we were ready. We didn’t know it, but we were ready.”  A WONDERFUL PROBLEM The future of the Carnegie Church of Christ is far from certain. On a summer Sunday, as Bryce and Margarite Marshall visited family in Texas, just a handful of old souls gathered in the pews for Sunday morning Bible class. 
Afterward, longtime members including Walter Owens and Ninalea Davis talked about the church’s recent growth. They pray it will last.
“We’ve got some young folks real interested,” said Owens, age 88. “That’s a start.” As Greg Marshall led hymns from a well-worn copy of “Sacred Selections for the Church,” a few more souls drifted in, including Juan and Nancy Orduna. They started attending recently and love the church’s preaching and fellowship, Juan Orduna said.
John Pickens, a visiting minster from Edmond, Okla., preached about the importance of baptism.
“Y’all need to get some water in your baptistery,” he said, glancing behind him from the pulpit, “because you never know when you’re going to need to baptize someone.” 
As Pickens preached, the Ordunas’ 18-month-old daughter, Juancy, began crying loudly. 
In the small auditorium, everyone noticed. And no one minded.
After decades of decline, Greg Marshall said, “It’s a wonderful thing to have the problem of kids making noise.”

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GeoffreySikesGeoffrey Sikes is in his 28th year as Pulpit Minister at Trenton Crossing Church of Christ, formerly Madison Street Church of Christ. The church will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Aug. 16. (Photo: Tony Centonze/For The Leaf-Chronicle)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.  – According to church history records, when C.E.W. Dorris started what is now the Church of Christ at Trenton Crossing in 1915, exactly one person showed up for the first service. One hundred years later, the membership has grown dramatically and the congregation will celebrate its first 100 years on Sunday, Aug. 16.

Geoffrey Sikes is in his 28th year as Pulpit Minister at Trenton Crossing, formerly called Madison Street Church of Christ. He loves the congregation and there is no place he would rather be on any day of the week.

“This church has a long history of being involved in the Clarksville/Montgomery County community. We were downtown until April 2014 when we moved to this new property,” Sikes said. “For most of the 99 years that we were downtown, we were at 7th and Franklin for 30 years and on Madison Street for 64 years. We aren’t going anywhere now.

“Several things come to mind when I try to describe this church to others. The first thing I tell people is that this is a very benevolent congregation. Jesus calls us to help others, and especially the poor. Regardless of where we have been located, we have always made the needs of the poor a top priority.

“Secondly, the spirit of this congregation is as good and strong as any I have ever witnessed. The third thing I have to say may sound odd to some, but we have always enjoyed a regular stream of visitors each Sunday. Visitors are welcome here.”

The greatest growth in membership occurred during the years Trenton Crossing was Madison Street Church of Christ. Sikes described those years as being a time of steady growth, both in terms of church membership and in the spirituality of the membership. From its beginning, mission work has been a focal point.

One example of mission work is the church’s outreach ministry known as The Well. That facility, at 224 Union St., is a place where those living in poverty, or the homeless, or the outcast, can come for help.

“After several years of offering help to people on a part-time basis, we now have a full-time ministry team at The Well. Jeff and Misty Shocklee are our ministry team there and are serving more people in need than ever.

“We now own the building outright and are expanding our services. On Aug. 9 we will begin a Sunday worship service there followed by lunch. This is something we have wanted to do for some time and we are now in a position to do it,” said Sikes. “Last year we served over 17,000 people.”

Sikes is also proud of the church’s international mission work, which centers on two major programs: Outreach to other cultures and the World Bible School.

“We want our youth to see and experience other cultures and work with people from those cultures,” he said. “Our youth team just returned from a trip to Honduras. They didn’t go on the mission trip to observe. They went to work, and in the process they saw firsthand the issues faced by the Honduran people.”

The World Bible School has been around for decades. It has been part of Trenton Crossing’s missionary activities for more than 30 years.

“Our biggest ministry outreach or missionary activity is being part of the World Bible School. This congregation was involved with this before I arrived. WBS takes the Bible and puts it into the hands of people worldwide by providing free scripture lessons to those who want to know more,” Sikes said.

“With this effort we are not only bringing the word of God to others, but members of this congregation are actively involved by reviewing and grading lessons, providing feedback to students, and encouraging lifelong learning to others.

WBS has been taken into jails and prisons for many years and has played an important role in helping people turn their lives around. Currently over 1.5 people are enrolled in the program globally

Rounding out the church’s outreach is direct local action: “Finally, on the local level we just provided over 500 families with backpacks loaded with school supplies so their children can begin the new school year fully prepared,” Sikes said.

Tim Gunnells will be the guest speaker for the anniversary celebration on the Aug. 16, and the community is invited. Gunnells is a former minister at Madison Street Church of Christ. Special singing will be led by Marlon Crow and a potluck lunch will follow the services.

In honor of its 100th year, church member and elder Blakey Bradley has written a history of the church, which is available for purchase for $10 at the church office.

To learn more about the Church of Christ at Trenton Crossing, visit the website at

Church of Christ at Trenton Crossing

What: 100th Anniversary Celebration

When: Sunday, Aug. 16

Where: 2650 Trenton Road, Clarksville, 37040

Contact: 931-647-6339


Services: Sunday school, 9 a.m.; Worship, 10 a.m.; Wednesday Bible Study, 6:30 p.m.

MackLyon SearchEDMOND, Okla. (BNC) by Phil Sanders — We are saddened to announce the loss of our dear friend and brother in the Lord, Mack Lyon, who passed from this life to be with the Lord at 11:15 pm on August 5.

Brother Lyon was a great soldier of the cross and enjoyed an opportunity to minister to more people in his life than anyone in his generation. Like David, he served the will of God in his own generation and fell asleep (Acts 13:36).

Mack Lyon loved the souls of men and loved preaching. In his last days, he constantly dreamed of being able once again to preach. As a young man, he was made to leave home if he were going to preach the gospel. He chose the Lord over his own parents.

Those who heard Mack Lyon from week to week loved him. How could they not love him? He spoke the truth in love and cared about every soul. He never exploited anyone but gave countless materials away free.

Mack ended his programs with compassion. Speaking of the booklets and CDs Search offered, brother Lyon would say:

“They’re free. Everything’s free, due to the generosity of your friends —members of some churches of Christ in the area. They’d be very, very pleased to have you visit and worship with them. It’s been a pleasure to have you join us today. Do it again next week, too. Will you? God bless you. We love you.”

"We are saddened for our loss but rejoice that he has reached his goal of being with the Lord forever," the ministry said on its Facebook page.
Lyon's son, Chris, "mentioned how (his father) had worked all his life for this day," reported the Edmond Church of Christ — the longtime sponsoring congregation for "Search."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the family as well as the 'Search' TV family and church family," the church's post said.
Mack Lyon in 2005. (PHOTO BY LYNN McMILLON)The Christian Chronicle detailed the roots of Lyon's ministry in an in-depth profile in 2005:
EDMOND, Okla. — A miracle of modern technology changed Mack Lyon's life. At a time when not every family owned a radio, the 14-year-old's father brought one home. The young Lyon started listening every Sunday to evangelist W.L. Oliphant's program out of Dallas. Lyon, who grew up on the banks of Muddy Boggy River in rural southern Oklahoma, had never traveled farther than the Coal County seat. He certainly had no idea how far Dallas was from his family's white, two-story farmhouse. “I just knew it was a long, long way by horseback,” said Lyon, now 83. “And yet I can sit out here at the end of the road, and I can hear the gospel preached in a powerful way in my home. And that just overwhelmed me.” One night that summer, after Oliphant's program ended, Lyon dropped to his knees. “I just prayed to the Lord that if he would let me live to be an adult, I would give my life to preaching the gospel using radio,” Lyon said. God, of course, had bigger plans.
Minister Phil Sanders joined "Search" in 2009, gradually assuming all the speaking duties as Lyon's health deteriorated.
Until Sanders' arrival, Lyon had been the program’s only speaker. Lyon started “Search” on a small NBC affiliate in Ada, Okla., in September 1980 when he preached for the Wewoka Church of Christ.
In 1982, Lyon moved the ministry to the Oklahoma City area and put it under the Edmond church’s oversight.
The program made Lyon one of the most recognized faces in Churches of Christ. "Search" now airs in all 210 U.S. television markets, appearing on nearly 150 local cable stations and 50 radio stations, according to the ministry's website.
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I know I will alway remember him.
John Murphy



PARAGOULD, Ark. (BNC) — One hundred and forty people indicated that “they want to know more about the Bible” in a two-day door-knocking effort July 20-21 promoting the Center Hill congregation’s Vacation Bible School in July.

After a third period of door-knocking the evening of July 21, youth minister David Lawrence wrote, “In two days we knocked on 2216 doors, talked to 1010 people, and found 140 people who want to know more about the Bible.”

On the congregation‘s Facebook page, minister Michael Meredith wrote:

It’s been another good day of knocking doors! It has been hot, yet productive. [One worker] talked with a teenage boy who lives with his family in the Glen Echo subdivision across from our building. He was very receptive to what she had to say. He told her that his family has never gone to church … ever. He was very interested in learning about Jesus. She asked him if he would like to learn more about the Bible. His response: “Ma’am, I don’t know anything about the Bible.”

The congregational email and posts did not mention if the people interested in knowing more about the Bible would accept a personal Bible study or course.

But the numbers are encouraging, considering the city of 26,000 and environs have some 13 congregations with many years’ efforts of outreach. There are still people out there who want to learn more.

And that ought to motivate saints everywhere who have been given the Good News to share.

Photo: West Court Street, Paragould, by Trent Dowler.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BNC) — This Fall, the Karns congregation will conduct a Special Needs Day Camp for children with special needs. The following is an interview with Kim Higginbotham, a member of the body at Karns and a Special Education teacher, who introduced this idea to the congregation.

How did you come up with the idea for such an event?

Having worked with special needs children and their families throughout the years, I noticed that a very small number attended any type of worship services.  Consequently, I did a little research and discovered that 80% of families who have a child with special needs are not attending church services at all.  Some of the reasons given included:

  • My child is not welcomed in any of the children’s activities.
  • When I took my child to Bible class, he was wheeled to the corner and sat there until I picked him up.
  • It’s not worth it.  My child cannot handle the sensory overload.
  • When my child is loud, people stare at us and shake their heads.
  • I asked the leadership if we could find someone to help my child during Bible class, but I was told that they were not responsible to find babysitters for me.

Upon learning these facts, I emailed a short questionnaire to congregations in Knoxville and surrounding communities.  The four questions asked were:

  1. How many children do you have with special needs in your congregation?
  2. What types of disabilities do they have (if you know)?
  3. Does your congregation provide any special services/programs for the child or their parents (example: special classes, seminars for the families, VBS, respite care, etc).
  4. Does your congregation have any sort of outreach for special needs children or their parents within the community?

From the responses received, I learned that none of us had any programs in place to help these families.  As the church, we should be looking for ways to minister to all people, so I thought we could surely find a way to make a place for these precious children.

What’s the significance of the name, “Forever His?”

I love the name, though it is really a more of a description. Special-needs kids are born sinless as we all are, but unlike the rest of us, they never let sin defile them. They live their lives in innocence, and come to the end of their lives just as pure and safe as babies.  They truly are forever His!

Are there any particular things that you hope to accomplish through this special camp?

We have three goals we wish to accomplish.

  1. We wish to minister to these special needs children with the love and kindness of Jesus. Children were a priority in Jesus’ ministry.
  2. We also wish to reach out to the parents and siblings of these children.  We want to let them know we acknowledge the special challenges they face and want to minister to them in the name of Jesus.
  3. We want these children to help us become more Christlike. We need them to be our teachers, and to help us learn such Christlike qualities such as compassion, perseverance, gratitude, patience, forgiveness and love.

What will this day consist of?

We are planning a “Fall Day Camp.”  The children will participate in songs, Bible story time, puppets, games, crafts, and outdoor activities.  Each child will have 1-2 volunteer “buddies” that will help them participate in all activities to the fullest.

What are some of the special challenges of conducting a day like this?

We really want this day to focus on children who cannot successfully attend a typical VBS program.  Special considerations must be made for each camper’s safety, medical needs, food sensitivities, bathroom/diapering needs, and mobility and sensory issues.  We want to be prepared for whatever need a child comes to us with.

Included in our camp staff will be a physician, several registered nurses, therapists, special education teachers along with a host of other volunteers.  A detailed registration form will have to be completed at least a couple of weeks in advance so that we can adequately prepare for each child.  We plan to limit the number in attendance for this first event to 15 children, so spots may fill quickly!

What are the date and time for this event?

We have scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.  Sign in time will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the day-camp activities will be from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Any final thoughts?

Just a reminder of what Jesus said,

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

For further information concerning this event, contact Kim Higginbotham by email.



At work camps across the nation, teens put their faith into action.

WICHITA, Kan. — Teens from Churches of Christ sure know how to paint the town.

 From West Virginia to Texas, dozens of annual summer work camps bring together young Christians to scrape and paint houses.

 Here in Kansas’ largest city, 200 teens and 60 adults participated in the recent eighth annual Wichita Work Camp, organized by the Northside Church of Christ.

“We’re not here doing work to show ourselves off,” said Colton Quall, 17, a member of the Central Church of Christ in Topeka, Kan., two hours northeast of Wichita. “We’re here to be servants for God.”

A dozen congregations in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma sent youth groups to Wichita. Teams came, too, from Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City and York College in Nebraska. “It’s a lot of work, definitely,” said Laura Weber, 16, a member of the Northside church. “You don’t really get a lot of breaks. But when you do, there’s a lot of talk about God, and you get to meet a lot of people who share the same faith as you, which is really amazing.”

Besides putting fresh coats on houses, the painters saved the city of Wichita thousands of dollars by covering gang graffiti under bridges and sprucing up playground equipment at a park, said Toby Levering, the camp’s director.

“The goal is to get teenagers to take on Jesus’ call to be a servant,” said Levering, a former youth minister who now preaches for the Northside church.

 Like a number of work camps across the nation, the Wichita effort — which this summer required 200 gallons of paint — traces its roots to the Memphis Work Camp in Tennessee.

 “I believe there are close to 20 work camps that have branched off from the one in Memphis, including ours,” said Ryan Ice, coordinator of the 17-year-old Mid-Ohio Valley Work Camp and youth minister for the Grand Central Church of Christ in Vienna, W.Va.

 In the 26-year history of the Memphis Work Camp, volunteers have painted 781 homes, director Buster Clemens said.

“We think our students learn a great deal about service and being Christ-like and also about culture and relating to people who are not like us as far as socioeconomic differences, racial differences and different areas of town,” said Clemens, youth minister for the Highland Church of Christ in Cordova, Tenn., east of Memphis.

More than 300 teens painted 22 houses in Memphis this summer.

“We don’t just paint homes,” said Garrett Roberts, 18, from the Church of Christ at Trenton Crossing in Clarksville, Tenn. “We paint God’s love on the city of Memphis.”

Ansley Roberts, Garrett’s 16-year-old sister, said the change of atmosphere benefits her.

“You’re in a part of town you might not normally be in, around people you may not normally hang out with,” she said. “Still, you accomplish something pretty amazing together because you’ve got a common goal: serving God by serving people.”

Elsewhere, 65 teens and 25 adults painted nine houses in Columbus, Ohio.

 This summer marked the 11th year of the Central Ohio Work Camp, said Adam Metz, minister for the Alum Creek Church of Christ in Lewis Center, Ohio, north of Columbus.

“Unfortunately, the Churches of Christ have not been very active in the city, and this has marked a small step forward,” Metz said. “The planning board has worked hard, with varying levels of success, to maintain relationships with our homeowners from year to year.” - See more at:

Decades ago, James O. Maxwell preached a sermon at the Lawrence and Marder Church of Christ in Dallas on trusting in God.
One woman in the predominantly black congregation became quite emotional.
“Oh, you better hush your mouth!” the sister proclaimed. “Hush your mouth! You better hush!”
The message touched another sister, and she, too, started shouting.

Maxwell’s son Shawn, then about 6 years old, listened to the outbursts and nudged his mother, Betty.

“Mama, why won’t Daddy hush?” the boy asked.
Maxwell, a longtime minister who serves as vice president for institutional expansion at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, still chuckles as he recounts that experience.
Pulpits are a great place to share the Gospel, lead sinners away from temptation — and find funny stories.
Trey Morgan recalls preaching a gospel meeting for a small country church in Ojo Feliz, N.M.
The first night of the meeting, Morgan noticed that the water in the baptistery had been replaced with a large, baited mousetrap.
The second night, a rat met its utter demise — during Morgan’s sermon.
“The trap went off, and a rat started flopping, flailing, screeching,” said Morgan, minister for the Childress Church of Christ in the Texas Panhandle. “For the next 20 minutes, I tried to preach over sounds of a dying rat just behind me.”
Timothy Gunnells, director of university relations for Amridge University in Montgomery, Ala., remembers a thunderstorm knocking out the power at the church where he was preaching.
The auditorium had no windows, so someone lit a candle.
“The back wall was all-white brick, and my rather long and wavy hairstyle cast a shadow on the wall,” Gunnells said. “From the second row, a boy who was about 5 yelled out, ‘It’s the shadow of Elvis!’ Needless to say, there was an uproar of laughter throughout the church. I thought it was pretty funny, too.”
Speaking of funny sights, John Walker Moore looked into the audience one Sunday and spotted a small cat peeking out of a woman’s purse.
“I hope the cat came to a commitment decision, but I wasn’t about to push baptism,” joked Moore, minister for the East End Church of Christ in East Hampton, N.Y.
Charlie Harrison enjoyed watching one mother’s approach to corralling her rowdy children.
She’d stuff marshmallows in their mouths.
“You should try it sometime,” said Harrison, minister for the Brunswick Church of Christ in Maine. “Just poke a jumbo marshmallow in someone’s mouth next time they begin to wiggle and want to wag their tongue at you while you are talking.”
But he warned: “Do not ever think of trying this on your beloved wife. She’s likely to take it the wrong way!”
One time, Roger Dennington made the announcements before Larry Sheehy preached at the Laurel Church of Christ in Mississippi.
Dennington grabbed the handful of announcement items that folks had given him and sat down.
“The sermon was short, and the preacher seemed to depart from his normal, well-prepared and smooth delivery style,” said Dennington, now a deacon for the Snellville Church of Christ in Georgia.
After the sermon, Sheehy made a beeline for Dennington. “Do you have my sermon notes?” Sheehy asked.
Maxwell, the Southwestern Christian vice president, shared another funny experience.
He was preaching at the West Broadway Church of Christ in Louisville, Ky., and offered the invitation. Several people responded, but one woman resisted when asked if she had a need for prayer.
“I ain’t done nothing!” the woman replied. She just needed to use the restroom behind the pulpit.
Maxwell later wrote a book on preaching ministry and communication in black churches.
His book’s title: “Hush Your Mouth!” 


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For months, Jennifer Hanner divided her time between helping her husband in the hospital and being at home with their three children. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Church member bounces back after two rare diseases — and inspires Christians from west Texas to East Africa.

Hunter Hanner is missing months of his life — specifically October, November and December of 2014 — when he was completely numb and trapped inside his own body. 
A longtime member of the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, Hanner spent the past six months in a Dallas hospital fighting a paralyzing disease called Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
But AIDP — characterized as rapid-onset weakness of the limbs usually triggered by an infection, affecting one in 100,000 people annually — isn't the only rare disease Hanner has had to battle in his life. 
As a 2-year-old in 1984, he was roughly the 100th person in the world to be diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disease, or CGD, an inherited condition causing the immune system to malfunction, leaving his body susceptible to numerous infections. 
Doctors said he wouldn't live past the age of 7. He's now 32 and completely CGD free. 
Hanner, who works in sales at family-owned Hanner Chevrolet, married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Hathorn, in 2003. By 2011, they were expecting twins. 
One afternoon, Jennifer Hanner received an e-mail about cord blood banking, which allows doctors to save the stem cells found in a baby’s umbilical cord to be used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. One of the disorders cord blood claimed to treat was CGD. 
"That e-mail was a God thing," Hanner told The Christian Chronicle. "We prayed that God would either close the door or just keep opening doors. And he kept opening the doors… so we went for it." 
His CGD specialists didn’t go for it, but the discussion opened doors for them to pursue other avenues of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant. He needed a perfect match — extremely hard to find. 
After a year and a half of prayer, Hanner checked into the Methodist Hospital in Houston on April 16, 2013, to begin chemotherapy. Ten days later, he received the bone marrow transplant. 
"The transplant took well and they let me out of the hospital," Hanner said. "But 40 days after the transplant my body started attacking my blood cells. Since then, I've had four or five autoimmune responses, with the latest one being the worst." 
"The worst" came in the form of the paralyzing AIDP. 
Hanner was flown to Zale Lipshy University Hospital in Dallas in September 2014, where he spent months fighting and praying for his life. 
"I remember having crazy dreams," Hanner said. "I was pretty sure I was dead at that point. I could see 'the light,' so to say. 
"I prayed to God, 'I don't want to die. I have lots to do. Don't be finished with me yet.'" 
God heard his and all of Abilene's prayers. Hanner was released in March 2015. 
More than 300 church members lined Antilley road in Abilene to watch as Hanner and his family were escorted home by local law enforcement. 
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