Happy 100th Birthday, Brother Preston!

When my family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the summer of 1970, we visited several local churches before we found East Ridge Baptist Church. Once we joined, my family fell in line and got involved in the ministries there. That’s where I learned what church was all about.

Its pastor, C. Henry Preston, had already been at East Ridge Baptist Church a LONG time when we arrived. To me, an uninitiated youngster, Brother Preston was (nicely put) a senior citizen  .  .  .  I must have thought,  How could this stately, older gentleman — so much older than me — have anything relevant to say to me?

Little did I realize how much of an impact this man would have on my life!

In the white-cathedral-ceilinged sanctuary (second pew, piano side), I sat under Brother Preston’s preaching. It was there God made clear His calling on my life. I began to listen to this preacher, took notes, found myself hungrily wanting to understand. I often went home and pondered the things I’d heard.

From there, the Holy Spirit used the scriptures and influence of certain people in my path (my Sunday School teacher, Debbie McMahan, for one) to convict me of my sin. I remember praying in my bedroom one Sunday afternoon as a 12-year-old girl to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. This came after hearing a sermon that morning I knew was aimed straight right at me! Not long after, I went forward and was baptized by Brother Preston in believer’s baptism.

I got involved in the church’s youth ministry, sang in youth choir, went on mission trips—all things contributing to my new believer-growth.  And all the while, Brother Preston maintained his constant, ever-faithful preaching of God’s Word.

Brother Preston retired from East Baptist Church after 37 years of service there and went on to preach interim positions at other local churches in the Chattanooga area. Al and I asked him back to East Ridge Baptist Church to perform our wedding ceremony in October 1980.

As a believer now much further along in her walk, I can truly appreciate how much I learned under Brother Preston’s ministry . . . how much of his teachings are ingrained in my understanding of God’s Word. . . how much of Al’s and my ministry is based on the foundations we both received under his preaching!

Tomorrow, September 14th, Brother Preston turns 100 years young. What a milestone and what a blessing this godly man has been to SO MANY, MANY PEOPLE! When he gets to heaven, I’m sure God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” (I can’t wait to hug him and tell him myself in person someday. . . .!)

Happy 100th birthday, Brother Preston! And may our gracious God bless you with many more!

P.S. Check out this link I found to an interview of Brother Preston in a Chattanooga newspaper today that will give you a real flavor of the man:


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