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Congregations says goodbye to longtime minister
Mar 28, 2007 12:00 am
Hundreds of well-wishers from the congregation of College Hills Church of Christ joined together Sunday afternoon to say farewell to their minister Dr. Larry Locke.
Locke preached his final Sunday sermon March 25 after 30 years of service to the church, and spent the afternoon at a reception in his honor speaking with church members and accepting best wishes.
"Brother Locke has been one of the pillars of the community here in Lebanon," said Don McElroy, the minister of Adult Education at First Baptist Church in Lebanon and a neighbor of the Locke family. "We wish him the best."
Locke moved to Lebanon with his wife Carol and their family from West Virginia in 1977. He began preaching at the the church when it was located on College Street. During his tenure Locke noted the most significant changes in the church were the number of members and the community involvement.
"The church has grown significantly since I started here," he said. The large amount of growth led the congregation to purchase the 40-acre plot where the church now meets on Leeville Pike.
"One of the biggest things I've seen happen is the concern of members to reach out and help people who are struggling in the community, whether it be with drugs or whatever," Locke added.
As testament to how much members of the church will miss Locke, the parking lot was filled to capacity for the morning worship service.
"I've never seen a crowd this big," said church member Georgia Franklin. "The whole parking lot was full and people were parking on the grass."
Before moving from West Virginia, Locke was pastor of the Madigan Avenue Church of Christ in Morgantown. Several members of his old congregation made the trip to Lebanon to visit. John and Janet Blue, former attendees of Madigan Avenue Church, wished Locke well at the reception. The Blues recently moved to Tennessee, and now reside in Bell Buckle.
"Everyone loved him there," Janet noted. "He was a great preacher."
John added that even after Locke departed for Lebanon his name "still came up" in conversations between members of the West Virginia church.
Even though he will no longer be preaching each Sunday, Locke says he does plan to continue his involvement with College Hills.
"I will stay involved, but it will be in less demanding kinds of ways."
Staff Writer Kimberly Jordan can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 44 or by e-mail at email@example.com.