Appreciation for our pastors, preachers and priests

By Dr. William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

Regardless of their title, spiritual leaders of all faiths are being recognized and honored during Clergy Appreciation Month. Since 1992, October has been observed as a nonofficial holiday with the second Sunday in the month generally called Pastor Appreciation Day.

Tri-state residents are not likely to need a reminder that this is a good time to show their appreciation for our religious leaders. This part of the country has a long history of people with deeply-held religious beliefs and an equally long history of honoring those who have been leaders among the various congregations.

For example, one of the oldest church buildings in Tennessee that is still active as a church is located in Claiborne County. Established in 1795, Big Spring Union Church is also known as Big Springs Primitive Baptist Church. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

In Middlesboro, two well-known and historically important churches are also on the National Register. Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church was built in 1880 and Mount Moriah Baptist Church was completed about 40 years later in 1921.

Those churches, one of which is well over 200 years old, are among the traditional congregations that have celebrated the hard work of their religious leaders through the years.

In 2019, there are large numbers of other tri-state churches plus many special settings where religious leaders have a positive influence on the people they serve. Included are hospitals, counseling centers and correctional facilities.

Our celebration this month can easily include them. And, perhaps the Clear Creek Baptist Bible School as well.

On the internet and elsewhere there are many suggestions for observing Pastor Appreciation Day on Sunday, Oct. 13, the second Sunday of the month.

A few suggestions include deliver the pastor a handwritten note indicating that you appreciate his or her leadership in the local community; drop a thank you note in the collection plate; or, perhaps the easy way to acknowledge your appreciation is a handshake and a verbal comment after the service on Sunday.

Although this is a special day observed nationally, we might take it to heart and let our appreciation to the clergy be known throughout the year. We could honor and encourage them and their staff regularly. Why not?

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu