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Pastor Fred Kerr of the Greenville Southern Baptist Church was feted last month in two special services, one at his church and one staged at the Assembly of God Church.
His total dedication to the church and the community as a whole were the focus of celebrations in honor of almost four decades worth of serving his fellow man.
Pastor Kerr and his wife, Barbara, came to begin their pastoral duties in July 1972, fresh from his graduation from the Golden Gate Seminary and a month-long trip back to Oklahoma and Arkansas to visit family and friends.
In all of those years, he missed only one Sunday worship service due to illness.
He has presided over more than 300 funerals, 75 marriages and 180 baptisms.
His flock has grown from 25 to 90, and additions have been made to the church, including a new parsonage, offices and the conversion of the old Cottenwood Club into a church youth facility.
Besides myriad church functions and leadership roles, Kerr has also served in various community organizations, including the Indian Valley Volunteers Association Thrift Store and the Indian Valley Food Pantry.
Pastor Kerr was also a familiar sight at Indian Valley Hospital, where he’d minister to long-term residents, providing them with weekly Bible study and monthly Sunday service.
He was also a strong supporter and organizer for ecumenical community services during Easter, Thanksgiving and the annual high school baccalaureate.
In 1997, his church family honored his 25 years of service by giving him a pickup truck that he still drives around town to this day.
He was also the first-ever recipient of the Indian Valley Community Member of the Year award in 1999.
He not only gives his all to church and organizations, he also goes out to shovel snow and perform a multitude of other tasks for the elderly and disabled in the community, whether or not they are members of his church.
Assembly of God pastors Cynthia Christensen and Brenda Reed opened the community-wide celebration with heartfelt welcome and prayer, followed by some of Kerr’s favorite hymns, two of which were sung by the Community Choir under direction of Marsha Roby of the Greenville Community United Methodist Church.
Pastor Donovan Norton shared a special scripture in honor of Kerr, who really seems to live in the unity of spirit described in Ephesians 4.
Kerr also spoke, recalling his first visit here, and how he almost decided to go elsewhere until his wife reminded him to go with God’s will, and not his own.
Barbara Kerr was also given special honor, because she has worked alongside and behind her husband all these years, providing her own ministry in Sunday school and myriad other ways.
Assembly of God pastors prayed over how they might honor this woman of God, and Christensen was inspired to write the following poem, presented in a special frame:
The Pastor’s Wife
Loving and serving
both great and small,
The pastor’s wife gives her all.
Like Jesus her Master,
She is meek and mild,
And clings to faith
With the heart of a child.
She willingly shares
her husband’s life,
For she cherishes her role
as the pastor’s wife.
Though not displayed
For all to see,
She quietly fulfills
She comforts, she teaches
she gives all her life
Her radiance shines;
she’s the pastor’s wife.
Genesee Home Pastor Charlie Blom also honored the Kerrs, speaking about the unique roles of pastors in the community, and how they all come into the community with knowledge only of the Lord.
He read from and based his message on 1 Corinthians 2, Paul’s reliance on the Spirit.
Kerr’s longevity here in Indian Valley and the relationships he has made possible were commented upon by Blom and Pastor Youngrae Kim of the Feather River Cooperative Parish United Methodist churches in Chester, Greenville and Taylorsville.
“We are all called to ministry, all to carry on the torch he and Barbara brought us as a community,” Norton said in his closing comments. “Let’s carry it with us everywhere.”
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