I want to say a public thank you to Mississippi Baptist men and a ministry they have that has blessed me three times over the 22 years I have lived in Iowa. The last two times they did it, I didn’t have a forum like this to say thank you, but now I do, so here goes.
I know a lot of you young whippersnappers preach in t-shirts and sandals, in your ratty ol’ ripped blue jeans. But those of us who, like fine wine (grape juice?) have matured with age still wear our suits and ties when we preach on Sunday morning. And those suits do not come cheap, especially when you pastor some small church in Iowa which can barely pay the light bills, much less a living wage for a preacher. (Note: I’m not talking about myself here. I pastor one of Iowa’s more financially sound churches and have no complaints about my compensation.)
Mississippi Baptist men understand this need and have a ministry that has been a real blessing to Iowa Baptists and, as I understand it, pastors from other smaller, non-Southern conventions around the SBC. Three times in 22 years they have sent me a brand new, high quality suit around Christmas time. The last couple of times they have even sent my wife store credit to buy herself some stuff. I’m not as thankful for that, because the last time it introduced my wife to Chadwick’s catalog, and that has not always been so good. More seriously, taking care of the pastor’s wife is thoughtful and much appreciated.
On December 23, I stood before my congregation and I have to tell you, I looked good! I was sporting my brand new charcoal gray suit with a shirt and tie my wife bought me for Christmas and let me have a couple of days early. Yeah, I was handsome! (Please do not wake me up.) That was a real blessing. I will wear this suit a lot in the days ahead.
But let me tell you about the first suit they sent me. I got that one back in the early days of my ministry in Cedar Rapids when I was one of those financially stressed smaller church pastors I described above. That time I got a sharp blue suit with a subtle gray pinstripe in it. It was the only decent suit at the time and I pretty much wore it every Sunday for several years until I wore it out so badly I had to get another! I preached in it. I married in it. I buried in it.
My first Mississippi Baptist Men’s suit got used about as well as any suit ever has been!
I want to say thank you to the generous folks who fund this ministry to Iowa Baptists and other smaller conventions. It really is a blessing and we are so thankful for what you do.
When you see me in Houston this year, I will likely be wearing a charcoal gray suit, and we will both know where it came from!
(And, yes, I will be wearing a suit this year. I didn’t expect to get elected to anything last year, so I didn’t bring any other jacket with me, except the lime green suit. When we posed for officers’ pictures, I got an earful from both my wife and CB Scott!)