Sunday, October 21, 2007
He Never Lets Go
Phillip McMinn and his wife Phyllis came to Reynolds, GA right out of seminary. The First Baptist Church of Reynolds would be his first church. I was not a member of his church but we quickly became friends. As the local undertaker I worked with him often. It was obvious to me having listened to many funeral sermons that Phillip had a real gift. He was very smart and had the gift of communication. He also had a heart for people, a passion for the ministry and a great sense of humor.
Most church people around Reynolds knew this gifted young preacher was on his way up. In other words, we knew a bigger church in a bigger town would grab him and he would be on his way. Reynolds and the local Baptist church were fortunate to have him and Phyllis for six years.
As I did with most of the good preachers who left Reynolds and Taylor County for other ministries in other places, I continued to stay in touch with Phil because families would ask me to call him back to speak at funerals. I kept the addresses of several former preachers because I knew the day would come when I would be asked to contact them. I think Phil came back more than all the others. He made that kind of impact on folks. In fact I was told yesterday that Phil was in Reynolds just a couple of weeks ago to preach a funeral. He has been gone for over 15 years. That says something about Phil McMinn.
Since I was also in the furniture business, I sold Phillip some office furniture for his new church after he left Reynolds. A few years ago I spoke at a banquet at his church in Lawrenceville. Last year I spoke for a medical group in Greenwood, SC. I didn’t realize until I got there that Phil was the new pastor of South Main Street Baptist Church in Greenwood and he had recommended me for that engagement. Although he was out of town the night I was there, I figured that one day I would get a call from Phil to go back to Greenwood to speak to a special event at his growing church. Or at least I hoped so.
That call won’t be coming.
I got a call from my brother this afternoon telling me that Phil had been killed in an automobile accident but he knew no details. Before I could get my breath, I got an email from a friend I met in Greenwood who is a deacon at South Main Street Church.
Phil was returning alone from a Staff-Deacon retreat early Saturday afternoon. He apparently ran off the right side of the road, over compensated and lost control of his car.
And in an instant his wife of 27 years and four beautiful children had their hearts ripped out and their lives turned upside down. And so did his 1200 member and growing congregation at South Main Street Baptist Church.
I have been reminded again that we are not promised our next breath. Phil had been meeting with his deacons and staff planning the next steps for their church.
Today they were planning his funeral.
I don’t pretend to understand the ways of God. Phil was definitely one of God’s true ambassadors. He was at the peak of his life and the possibilities for him, his family and ministry were limitless. But God apparently had other plans.
And in spite of our limited understanding God is still in control.
He never lets go.