Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ron Thompson Retires this Weekend

Ron Thompson, with his wife, Thelma, concludes his ministry at Aiken, South Carolina, today. Here is an article from the Aiken newspaper. To see the original, click here.

Retirement has begun for local pastor and his wife


Ron Thompson was called into the ministry at the age of 18, shortly before he finished high school.

Fifty-six years later, a career that has taken him to several pulpits, itinerant pastoring and an evangelical ministry is coming to a formal end.

After nine years as Grace Brethren Church's associate pastor, Thompson and his wife Thelma are retiring and will move near one of their daughters in Tennessee. Church members will honor them and family members with a celebration at Aiken Electric Cooperative today from 4 to 6 p.m.

"This is where God wanted us to be," said Thompson. "The people here are so warm, and we've never been part of a church like this. It gives 47 percent of its total budget, and Pastor (Steve) Taylor is almost a missionary himself."

Thompson has always had an interest in music, taking lessons and playing the organ in church as a teenager in Hopewell, Va. He has returned to music in the past 20 years, especially at Grace Brethren as keyboardist and pianist. He plays with the church's praise band and helps with the church choir and general accompaniment as needed.

Music is just one of Thompson's strong points, said Howard Brounce, a church member and close friend, who cited Thompson's work with the "primetimers," the seniors in the church. Thompson also would take his friends to North Carolina to volunteer with the Samaritan's Purse program of Billy and Franklin Graham, filling shoe boxes with gifts to send to needy people overseas.

"We've gone to nursing homes to do songs and scripture readings for those in the homes," said Brounce. "Pastor Ron is an all-around good guy and absolutely very spiritual."

Brounce also praised the contributions of Thelma Thompson "as a fine, fine lady who was in charge of the nursery and was always available to help in any area she was needed."

Thompson and his wife grew up together and were in a youth group with the Church of the Brethren, a more liberal denomination. He enrolled at Bridgewater College and pastored at rural churches on weekends.

After he and Thelma married in 1957, they were sent to a church in Buena Vista, Va., which had stones 16 inches thick that had been hauled out of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thompson later enrolled at Grace Theological Seminary, which provided the sound, conservative training he had been seeking.

For several years, he traveled extensively in working with crusades. His wife had stayed home with their two young daughters. Thompson wanted to be with them and took a church pastorate in Roanoke, Va. A few years later he accepted a call to a Richmond, Va., church, then returned to Roanoke for 17 years. During that time, Thompson became the national board chairman for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

That experience led him to a ministry in Mexico, teaching evangelism to pastors in a seminar-type format there as well as in Argentina and Guatemala. Thompson has met many others who have influenced him - a lay leader in Virginia who loaned him money for college, pastors in Virginia and Indiana and an evangelistic leader in Mexico named Juan Isais, who had worked with Billy Graham.

Don Soule, Grace Brethren's pastor of youth and families, will succeed Thompson as associate pastor. Jim Murray has been hired as pastor of youth and young adults.

Thompson is preaching this morning, and he will encourage people "to keep on keeping on and trusting the Lord."

"An important part of the ministry here is not to give up but to be amazed at some of the good things that God has blessed us with," he said.

The Thompsons are moving to Limestone, Tenn., where their daughter is a Christian school principal. Pastor Ron is heading for what he calls a partial retirement "where we will be open to whatever ministry door God wants us to go through for His honor and glory."


Anonymous Dave Mitchell said...

Congratulations Ron on many years of faithful ministry. There are people who will be walking the streets of heaven because of the ministry you and your wife have had.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Luke E Kauffman said...

Ron . . . I have always enjoyed working with you in the Fellowship. You are one of the few forever friends in ministry. CONGRATULATIONS!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Ron, it was pure joy to work alongside you in ministry, to follow you to Richmond, VA and to count and you Thelma as dear friends! Blessings, my friend and colleague.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Kurt said...

It has been pure joy to serve alongside you in ministry; to follow you in Richmond, VA; and, to consider you and Thelma as dear friends. Congratulations, my friend and colleague!

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

11:30 PM  

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