Putting Old Mules Out to Pasture

Sam Rainer

July 5, 2007

This last Sunday evening, we put three old mules out to pasture. William “Bill” Neal, Wayne “Doc” Watts, and Charles “Charlie” Lenson were all honored at our deacon emeritus service.

The title of “deacon emeritus” is given to those who have served the church as deacons faithfully over the years. Emeritus honor is placed upon those who are discharged from active professional duty due to physical inabilities but retain the title of one’s position.

Bill Neal was ordained as a deacon 50 years ago. He served the US Army during World War II. He and his wife are gifted musically and led worship through music on many occasions. Though well into his 80s, he still regularly cuts hay on his farm.

Doc Watts grew up in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains, and he served in the US Army from 1951-1953. He had six older brothers who served concurrently during World War II. He has served faithfully at our church for over 27 years. Doc’s wife makes the best pies around.

Charlie Lenson served in the US Navy from 1944-1946. He built much of our church facilities with his bare hands. He has served faithfully at this local congregation for almost 30 years. Though in his mid 80s, Charlie can still be found up at the church working on any number of facility-related issues. He’s been pinned by a gigantic refrigerator at the bottom of a stairwell, replaced a hip, and lost a thumb after challenging a saw, but nothing stops him from serving his church.

These men characterize the patience, endurance, loyalty, sure-footedness, strength, and courage of a sturdy mule. They are examples to all deacons. They are the durable servants of our church. They are men of honor. They are men of God.

Thank you, deacons, for your service to this country and to our church. Yes, we are putting you out to pasture. But the harness is hanging on the fence, and the plow is beside the gate, since you know better than anyone, you never retire from the church.

6 comments on “Putting Old Mules Out to Pasture”

  1. forthekingdom says:

    Thank God for Doc and Charlie. Men (and women) such as these are the unsung heroes of our churches. And thanks to you, Sam, for this poignant reminder.

  2. forthekingdom says:

    I left out Bill. He too is a hero of the church.

  3. Sam Rainer says:

    Bill’s kinda quiet…but certainly a hero of the church.

  4. kdb1411 says:

    I’ve had “mules” like that at my church. I wish we had hundreds like them.

  5. I’m putting together a service to honor our newly minted “Deacons Emeritus”. What did your order of service look like? We’re thinking of 10-15 minutes prior to the Sunday sermon.

    Bill Matthews
    Deacon Chairman
    FBC Mexia, Texas

  6. Sam Rainer says:

    As I remember, we had a video of people from their families speaking of their integrity and love. We also had other deacons speak briefly about key moments during their ministry. I gave a challenge to the church on the importance of deacons.

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