LifeWay Retiree Fellowship
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

History of Fellowship


LifeWay Retiree Fellowship  (1987-2016)    


     This year we are observing our 30th anniversary as a retiree group. In 1986, Phil Harris, Department Director of the Church Training Department was the person who came up with the desire to keep the retirees in touch with each other through an official organization. He approached Jim Williams, Exec Vice President and presented a purpose statement for the forming of the group and it was heartily endorsed. 

     In the first meeting in March, 1987, Dr. Lloyd Elder spoke of the role of “family” in the life of the Board and among retirees. There were 100 retirees in that first meeting. At the  second meeting, dues were set at $2.00 per retiree; a newsletter was mentioned and a mission project was proposed (collecting toys for the Children’s Home at Christmas). Officers were elected with Dr. Phil Harris being elected to serve as the first president.

     In the early years of the organization, officers were elected for one year terms and later the officers were elected for a two year term. Also, It was under the administration of Dr. Elder that he made sure that finances put into the BSSB budget to cover the basic expenses of this organization.

     Former BSSB Presidents have been active involved in this fellowship and have attended and spoke at various time about the value of retirees to the life and ministry of the BSSB/LifeWay.

     During 1992, President Leonard Wedel was instrumental in designing an ongoing structure for the Fellowship. We have been operating under those designs and several revisions ever since.

     We have had as many as four meetings each year and now are having a fall meeting and a spring meeting.

     During 1993 under the leadership of  President Gomer Lesch there was a major effort to involve the 159 BSSB employees that retired in 1992.

     It has been interesting reviewing the historical files to see the many names of our retirees who have contributed to this organization. Some of the things that I noted that we have varying balances in our finances! In1996 our fund balance was $1,18.88; In 1998, we raised our dues under the leadership of President Ralph Murray when our fund balance was $9.79!

     Our retirees have assisted LifeWay and the community in many projects like the Billy Graham Crusade in 2000; serve as tour guides for visitors to the building and helped with celebrating the 100th anniversary of the BSSB and launching of the Baptist Hymnals in 1975, 1991 and 2008.

     Our attendance has grown from 100 retirees to over 250 at our 2015 meeting. We have over 1200+ retirees nationwide and over 820+ in the Nashville area. Our oldest retiree is 104 years old and presently lives in Huntsville, Alabama.

     This year LifeWay celebrated 125 years of ministry and as you look around this room today, you will see people that have given their lives  to providing materials, models of ministry and leadership around the world for as written Matthew 28:19-20.

Presidents of LifeWay/BSSB Retiree Fellowship (1987-2019)              

1987 Dr. Phil Harris 1988 Dr. A. V. Washburn 1989 Herman King
1990 Maines Rawls 1991 Leonard Wedel 1992 Gomer Lesch
1993 Gomer Lesch 1994 James Barry 1995 Norman Hodges
1996 Margurite Babb 1997 Joe Stacker 1998 Ralph Murray
1999 Lucy Hoskins 2000 John Chandler 2001 Bill Young
2002 George Clark 2003 George Clark 2004 Faye Hawks
2005 Faye Hawks 2006 Lloyd Elder 2007 Lloyd Elder
2008 Jimmy Edwards 2009 Jimmy Edwards 2010 Jim Fitch
2011 Jim Fitch 2012 Tom Clark 2013 Tom Clark
2014 Fran Webb 2015 Fran Webb 2016 John Gardner
2017 John Gardner 2018 Jim Harvey 2019 Jim Harvey