Pastor Ronnie Johnson at Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church has had a liver transplant, lost a leg, two toes and a finger, but he has not given up his calling.
He was out of the pulpit from January until May, but in spite of physical challenges, he’s returned to the pulpit and to the congregation he’s led for the past 16 years.
His leg was amputated last January and a month later he was fitted for a prosthesis. The surgery and months of recovery afterward might have put a lesser man on the sideline for good, but not this man of God. He will celebrate his 65th birthday Sept. 19 and plans to continue his ministry at Piney Grove at 929 Piney Grove Church Road in Hillsborough.
The pastor’s physical problems are associated with diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was 40 and says it was not unexpected since both his parents came from families that had diabetic members.
His liver transplant dates from 2001.
Johnson has had to make adjustments to his new life, he said recently. But during the months of his recovery he has kept a positive attitude, he said, partly because of the support of his wife Veronica.
“We are a team,” he said. “I know that God’s way is the best way and that God never leaves you. I have not had any real down moments. My wife is a godsend. She takes me everywhere.”
Veronica, 47, and the pastor were married in 2001 and together their blended family includes five children.
“I had not planned on getting married,” Veronica said, “but I asked God to send me a man that I needed, not a man I wanted. A man in the church. When you love somebody, you take your vows seriously, for better for worse, in sickness and in health. I am not a minister. God has not called me that far yet, I am just a First Lady that’s all.”
Piney Grove is a growing congregation, said the pastor. “We are trying to get basketball teams together for both the girls and the boys. We want to have something for everybody in the church to do. Folks who play together become more lovable.”
The church is now raising money to renovate office space at the church to accommodate Pastor Ronnie’s physical needs. This includes expanding his office and making it more accessible.
A major fundraising event, a 3 on 3 charity basketball event will take place Saturday, July 27, at A.L. Stanback Middle School, 3700 N.C. 86 South in Hillsborough.
The registration fee is $10 per person if paid by July 25 or $15 on the day of the event.
Church member Michelle Kirkpatrick is heading the planning committee. Call her at 336-212-8766; contact the church at 919-732-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deviate this summer
Some churches use summer as a time for innovation, for doing something different, trying new approaches, being creative.
An interesting deviation from the norm was included in a recent newsletter from University Presbyterian Church, 209 E. Franklin St. Although preaching in Presbyterian churches is usually tied to the lectionary readings of the day, here’s an innovation that might pique your interest.
It’s a sermon series called “Gerunds of Faith, Christian Practices Worth Practicing” with this bit of grammatical explanation: “A gerund is a verbal noun ending with ’ing’ that connotes incomplete or ongoing action.’”
“Similarly, the practice of the Christian faith is an ongoing and dynamic task, never completed in one’s lifetime, yet it is to such practice that Christ calls us,” said Robert Dunham, pastor.
The first sermons in the series dealt with welcoming, working, resting and eating. Here’s the list for upcoming Sundays:
• July 14, Gathering;
• July 21, Forgiving;
• July 28, Praying and
• Aug. 4, Considering.
Sunday worship services at this downtown Chapel Hill church are held at 8:30 and 11 a.m.
Free concert Sunday
The Bradshaw Quartet will present a 4 p.m. concert Sunday as part of the Faith & the Arts Series at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, at 210 St. Mary’s Road in Hillsborough.
Organized in 2003 to further extend the musical fellowship they enjoy as the rhythm section for the United Voices of Praise Gospel Choir, the group features Charles Bradshaw, keyboards; Matthew Busch, tenor and soprano saxophone; Brad Kintner, upright and fretless bass; and Odessa Shaw, drums. Each has more than 20 years of musical experience and training in a range of musical styles.
The quartet plays jazz standards, new interpretations of R&B and pop classics and original compositions.
The concert is free, but donations will be accepted. All are invited to come, to enjoy the music and to have an ice cream cone afterward.
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