Friday, April 1, 2011

Introducing Tim Pennington-Russell: Baptist preacher's husband, guest blogger and esteemed poet

Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, First Baptist of Decatur
Last Fall, right between my two epic trips with Rebekah for study leave and vacation, I spent a most excellent weekend in the Atlanta area with the men's ministry at First Baptist Church of Decatur.

The church was already familiar to me from the news. One newspaper headline (The Christian Post, 2007) proclaimed: "Baptist Megachurch Makes History Electing Woman to Pulpit". Later, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Southern Baptist Convention moved to "disfellowship" the 2,700 member congregation. I remember wondering - being married to an exceptional "outside-the-box" preacher myself - if I'd ever get to meet the notorious celebrity cleric! 

So it was serendipitous when Julie Pennington-Russell's church invited me to speak. I liked her right away (I wasn't surprised), but I was doubly blessed that weekend because, for pretty much the first time ever, I also met a fellow preacher's husband who immediately seemed like the type of man I could be great friends with. Tim and Julie - along with their teens, Taylor and Lucy - make a wonderful family.

Tim, Taylor, Willieboy (woof), Lucy, Julie
Tim Pennington-Russell and I have corresponded a lot since then, and this past week he agreed to write some guest-spots for this blog. He's been a little busy lately, distracted by a boatload of what comes with the package when you're a clergy-hubby who's also committed to faithful discipleship. But I bugged him repeatedly, leaned on him without mercy, and then twisted his arm until he cried "uncle!" at last and threw me the bone of the remarkable poem featured below.

And so, without further ado (with the exception of the cheesy introduction, below), let's proceed to this historic first step toward blog immortality:
  • Introducing (drum roll, please...) 
  • for the very first time (bring in the low, "anticipatory", roar from the crowd...)
  • fresh from his long-standing engagement in Atlanta (cue the spotlights...)
  • this site's very first (adjust the crowd roar to a fever pitch...) 
  • "GUEST-BLOGGER" (the crowd goes wild...)
  • our very own (well, not really) 
  • Baptist Preacher-spouse/Clergy-hubby extraordinaire.... (wait for it...)
  • TIM PENNINGTON-RUSSELL (Woo-hoo! Yippee! Ra-ra-ra! Super-duper!)!!!
Julie and Tim
the pastor comes home
- by Tim Pennington-Russell

She sits in the bedroom
low spring sun striping the closed door
taking a call
that followed her in from the car

patiently she listens
lifting the dragging weight
pulling with another
a yoke of grief

at last
shifting the load in prayer
to stronger shoulders
she says good bye

the remnants
belong to us
each rehearsing our day
sibling skirmishes and laughter
blessed mundane joy


  1. Beautiful, Tim...and thanks for sharing, Derek. So proud that a Baptist church has a woman pastor. I'm a former Baptist myself.

  2. How many steps did you complete to receive the "free gift" of Salvation?

    Is this a "free" gift?

    I tell my child that I have an incredible gift for him. However, in order for the gift to be his, he must:

    1. apologize for his bad behavior and sincerely mean it.
    2. he must commit to change his ways and follow MY ways for the rest of his life.
    3. he must make a decision that he WANTS my gift.
    4. he must then approach me, hold out his hands, ask me for the gift, and cooperate with me, as I place the gift into his hands.

    If he does all this, he will receive his gift. But...if he chooses to reject my gift, I will damn him to HELL!

    Now is this "gift" really a gift...or a REWARD for making the right decision?

    No, that is NOT a gift.
    This is a gift: "Dear Son, I have a gift for you. Here it is. I love you more than words can describe", and then I place the gift in my son's lap. No strings attached. The gift is his. He did nothing to receive it. I did everything.

    THAT is a gift!

    So what is God's free gift? It is the whole salvation package: faith, belief, repentance, forgiveness of sins, atonement, and eternal life. It is ALL free... to those whom God has predestined, before the world existed, for reasons we do not know, to be his children.