"Thanks for the Memory"

16 Years in the Life

"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today."
--William Allen White


It is hard to capture all of the wonderful experiences that I have had across these years at First Baptist, Alexandria. Except to say that I have had the time of my life and have never had more fun and fulfillment in ministry.

I love all aspects of a pastor's life, all the things I get to do. In my time here I have preached hundreds of sermons through most of the Bible, baptized hundreds of believers, dedicated scores and scores of babies, and presided over countless committee meetings. There were 110 weddings and 200 funerals, and I tried to make each one unique and personal. Audrey and I entertained thousands of folks in our home on Woodland Lake Drive.

I served on the Boards of Trustees for Leland Seminary, Hope Tree Family Services, and as moderator of the NorthStar Network of Churches. I was also a trustee for Guidestone Financial Services, the retirement and insurance entity for the SBC.

Being pastor here provided me with lots of opportunities to have an influence beyond our walls. To pray the invocation for many civic functions in Alexandria, and to lead the US House of Representatives and later the US Senate in prayer. I met both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the White House and welcomed Vice President Mike Pence twice to our church.  There were several Oval Office tours and lunches in the West Wing along the way, too. I once sat in on oral arguments before the US Supreme Court.

Mission trips have taken me all over the world, encouraging our missionaries and spreading the gospel. In my travels I once ate a sheep's eyeball in Kyrgyzstan and Amazonian ants in Brazil—a real delicacy.

Besides preaching and teaching, I also enjoyed sharing my life and experiences each week in my Pastor's Journal and my Take Five thoughts every Friday.


"If I had to choose, just one moment to live within my heart..."

SWEET GEORGIA BROWN: Meadow Lark Lemon at FBCA, 3/29/09

DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING: Brought up onstage for show in Edinburgh, Scotland, 9/7/17

IT'S ON MY RESUME: Introduced on a 9/11 program by Tom Brokaw, 9/10/08

GPS FAILURE: Audrey shows up for party at wrong house, but goes right on in and meets everybody anyway, 9/3/07

BEST SUNDAY: Joint worship services with our friends at Alfred St., 6/15/08

I BLINKED!: Staring into the face of Vladimir Lenin in Moscow, 10/4/11

Meeting Aussie Maria Diisco on flight cross country and then later that same week in Los Angeles, 8/12/15

TYPECAST: Getting a part in LCT play—as Pastor Don, 12/11

"ON AN EVENING IN ROMA": Favorite spot, Piazza Novona in Rome, 7/22/17

GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROADWAY: Narrating on stage at Lincoln Center, 5/25/15

PROUDEST: Roger McGee and our choir leading worship at the Southern Baptist Convention, 6/10/14

FINAGLING A DINNER DATE: With tennis legend, Chris Evert, at wedding reception, 12/5/09

TIME STOOD STILL: Nagasaki, Japan, 8/9/12 at 11:02AM

ESSENTIAL TO THE PLOT: Kissing the girl in The Shooting of Dan McGrew, in Alaska, 6/1/06

LARGEST OFFERING: $200, pressed into Audrey's hands by two Iranian women in Armenia as a gift to our church (Mark 12:41-44), 8/6/18


UPGRADE: Multi-room suite at Waldorf-Astoria, NYC, after Audrey charms the desk clerk, 2/13/13

FAVORITES: Mount Vernon, Reagan Airport, the museums, and Starbucks at Springfield Mall.

SORRY I ASKED: Bella has tattoos all over her body and she uses them to tell me her life's story during flight to Phoenix, 4/29/12

Old Town Square, Prague, 2/19/16

Chatting with actress Jennifer O'Neal, 9/18/11

Restroom accident in Istanbul, 4/9/10

WHERE'S MY AGENT?: Two days in Hollywood with president of Hallmark Movies. I think he almost offered me a part, 8/12-13/15

BIRD'S-EYE VIEW: Archie takes me up to top of steeple so I can see city,  10/13/06

MOST ANXIOUS TIME: John Mark is in Tokyo when there's the big earthquake, Tsunami, and nuclear disaster, 3/10/11

BEST SUMMER: My invigorating Sabbatical in 2014

A CHANGE IN PLANS: Job 4:4-5, 7/24/21 at 8:30 PM

THE SUN NEVER SETS: Quick trip to Germany to preach and visit FBCA friends, 1/31-2/6/18

LAST MAN STANDING: Longest tenure as senior pastor in 218-year history of FBCA, beating out Ernest Campbell by 2 months.

Major renovation of our facilities, 2018-2020

THE VOICE: A man at airport in Paris recognizes my voice from a wedding years before, and remembers what I said to the couple, 7/26/17

"WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM": The COVID pandemic, 3/15/20-?

FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE: Duck hunting with Col. Oliver North and Martin Whitmer, 1/9/10

"THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA": Walking that famous beach and singing to the beautiful Daniela, 4/17/15

Yes, I've had a great time of it these past 16 years. And marvelous colleagues at the church to serve with me. Most of the credit for achievements at FBCA along the way goes to them. I just had the good sense to let them serve out of their giftedness.

I like to look back—obviously—but someone once said that the one prayer God will not answer is the request for an encore. He is always doing good, new things--and so He will in my life and in the future of our church. I am claiming Isaiah 43:18-21, and I want you to as well.

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