Besting Albert's Record
Last Sunday, 9/11, I woke up to a surprising and touching message on the FBC Facebook page: "Good morning. Though today has serious overtones from that fateful day ten years ago, I understand it is a day of breaking a record at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. Congratulations on being the longest continuous pastor. (From one who knew the previous record holder better than just about anyone!)”
That note was written by Mary Jane Cardwell, the daughter of our church's 26th pastor, Albert L. Cardwell, who served just over 15 years from 1963 to 1978. According to Buddy Shurden, our resident expert on all things historical, Dr. Cardwell served the longest single pastorate at our church until Yours Truly exceeded his record on, of all days, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Dr. Cardwell's health was fading by the time I arrived in 1996 and I didn't have the opportunity to know him well. Still, I always liked him and felt we were kindred spirits. I appreciated his honesty, forthrightness, and fighting spirit for the things he believed in
My favorite Albert Cardwell story hails from a time he stopped by a Men's Prayer Breakfast at the church. He stuck his head in the door of a room filled with happily contented gentlemen, chowing down on bacon and eggs. "What are you doing here?" Dr. Cardwell demanded in his gruff, no-nonsense manner.
"Well, Preacher," someone answered innocently. "We're having breakfast."
"Well, I can see that," Dr. Cardwell replied, "but what are you doing here?"
"Like I said, we're having breakfast."
"But what are you doing here?" Dr. Cardwell asked yet again, leaving them to ponder the question. Pretty soon amid heaping plates of scrambled eggs, grits, and bacon, the probing question found its mark: "So as followers of Jesus, what are we called to do?"
Albert Cardwell is but one of a long train of gifted, able pastors who served the First Baptist Church of Christ with excellence and distinction. Those reading the weekly bulletin inserts, "Portraits of Our Pastors," will recognize the remarkable company of pastors in which I am privileged to stand. It's an honor to rub shoulders with their greatness.