Huntsville pastor still going strong after 35 yearscomment (0)
February 22, 2007
By Jeremy Dale Henderson
It’s a church that has weathered the division and dwindling numbers that can strike, but through it all has been a set of unwavering eyes staring at the congregation from the pulpit, the eyes of a man transfixed by a single verse of Scripture.
The verse is Acts 20:28. The man is Eason and he has made a difference, church members say.
"‘Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,’" Eason said, quoting the apostle Paul from memory.
"I very strongly believe that if the Holy Spirit has really set you [at a church], then you should have no fear whenever the adverse times come," Eason said. "When the Holy Spirit sets a man in place, I believe he is unmovable."
And Eason hasn’t moved since 1971. On Dec. 2, 2006, he marked his 35th year as Antioch Baptist’s pastor.
He is the longest-tenured pastor in Madison Association, and according to records at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, only 10 other Baptist pastors in the state have been at their post longer.
"I think the Lord had a plan for us here," said Eason’s wife, Lou Ann, who is known at Antioch as "Mrs. Preacher." In addition to leading a women’s group, she plays piano, organ and keyboard for the church.
Regardless of his record numbers, retirement is not in his future, Eason said. "I just want to keep moving and keep going because I feel like a lot is left to be done."
Keeping busy is not a new concept for Eason, who has managed to accomplish an extraordinary amount and has worn many hats during his 42 years of doing ministry work.
Eason has served on the advisory boards of a wide variety of ministries and helped found the Downtown Rescue Mission, a well-respected nonprofit organization that has been making a daily Christian impact in the Huntsville area since 1975.
And for more than 10 years, he has been responsible for arranging the invocations for the Huntsville City Council.
"The thing about Curtis is the way he meets the needs of the people he meets and the needs of his community," said John Long, director of missions for Madison Association.
"He has been a great influence because he has been an integral part of Huntsville’s growth being a part of the city council, and he really takes the gospel into the marketplace rather than keeping it in the walls of the church."
In the 1980s, Eason organized and led two pro-life marches in which 4,000 people participated.
He also edited and published The Valley Christian Chronicle, an independent Christian newspaper, for seven years and hosted a regional Christian radio show for 20 years.
"I can always brag on him," said Hubert, a member of Antioch since 1978.
Hubert and his wife, Debbie, were chiefly responsible for what Eason called a "huge blowout" celebrating his anniversary.
An honorary tea was held after a commemorative Sunday service that was attended by ministerial colleagues and several Huntsville city officials.
If you put Curtis Eason in a box, then he will, in his words, "hop right back out of it."
Though uncommonly fit for his age, the image is metaphorical.
The 69 years Eason has logged on this earth have taken their normal physical toll, but spiritually the Madison Baptist Association pastor is as spry as the jackrabbits of his native Texas.
And considering Eason’s relentless application of the Bible in a sinful world often wished left alone, he’s needed to be.
But as Charles Hubert put it, "He’s an incredible pastor and a man of integrity. If he tells you he’s going to do something, he’ll do it."
Hubert is currently the only deacon at Antioch Baptist Church, Huntsville, where Eason serves as pastor.