Spiritual Fathers

Our friends at Near Emmaus, specifically Mark, have asked about our Spiritual fathers in light of Peterson’s upcoming book.

I’ve already written about mine, Mark Corts. That post too was prompted by Mark Stephens. Dan posted about two of his.

What I haven’t blogged about is his funeral. I wrote about it then, but didn’t blog it, so I’ll post it instead here. This does NOT meet the requirements of the giveaway, but I felt inspired to do it none-the-less.

We arrived at church at 9 am for the 10am funeral and the church was already quite full. I shared some of my stories with you and wanted to share some of what I heard today. Some I’d heard before, but some I’d not.

Jack Homesley was in the first Tarheel pastoring group. He said he was honored to be invited. Who was he that Mark Corts had taken notice. At the time, he was pastoring a church of less than 100, and they were all unhappy about something. The building had no hot water and the parking lot was gravel. Jack said that he was terribly under attack at the time. Some months he cried all the way to the day long meeting, but he always felt when he left that he could hang on for one more month due to Mark’s encouragement. Today that same church has over 1400 people and is involved in a church plant.

Gary Chapman, another man that holds a dear place in my heart, spoke of their years in ministry together. He read a letter from Derek Chapman who lives in Austin. Derek talked about the years of sitting under Mark’s tutelege. Derek says he now always trusts a preacher who talks about food. Gary said that it was just a while back that Mark called and asked him to write the forward to this last book.

Food was a centrail theme today, just as it was in so many of Mark’s sermons.

Ken Hemphill told us about the first time he met Mark. Ken was a young man in his father’s church. Mark was suppose to preach and walked in 30 minutes late playing his trumpet. When Ken decided to come to Wake Forest, his dad told him that he had to go to Calvary and Ken ended up being Calvary’s first college intern. When he got to church to perform his duties, Mark would ask him what he’d learned in his classes and then pull out his Bible and say, “Let’s test it against the truth.” Mark called Ken one Saturday night late and asked Ken if he was sure about his call to preach. Seemed Mark had double booked himself for a revival and needed Ken to preach at home.

Jim Henry, when elected SBC President, asked Mark to be the chairman of the committee of committees. Their were people who weren’t sure that Jim was conservative enough, but when they saw Mark, they knew things would be handled well and in a godly manner.

Mark’s brothers and sister spoke. Naomi told about the time that Mark almost fell out of the car and her dad wouldn’t stop. She grabbed on to Mark’s overalls and held on for dear life. Mark used to talk about his dad’s driving from the pulpit. This brought back yet another memory. Mark’s brothers told about Mark’s love for the Lord, his great personality and winning smile. His love for people and our Saviour came up time and time again. Paul told about being Mark’s newspaper apprentice. Nine year old Mark carried 20 papers to Paul’s 7. After a block, Mark asked Paul if he could take a few more. Paul recounted that it was a priveledge even then to lighten Mark’s load.

Mark’s grandon, Christian, said that the grandkids loved Mark’s stories, strong voice, loving hands, and wet kisses.

John, Mark’s son, recalled how they had spent a Saturday morning canoing on the Yadkin River. Mark exclaimed that it was 12:25 and he had a 1:00 wedding. They hurriedly paddled to shore, grabbed the canoe and threw it on top of the car without stapping it down. They each had an arm out the window to hold on to the canoe while Mark raced down I-40. Mark put on his suit without showering and got to the wedding at 12:59!

Mark’s oldest, Steve, preached. Mark had asked him if he would if he could. Steve agreed and said that Mark then gave him 8 back up names. He talked about how irritating it was to have a dad who could remember everyone’s name. He talked about the man who had not seen eye-to-eye with Mark and yet praised Mark for his kindness and grace. I could see so much of Mark in his son. There was a moment when Steve moved to the side of the pulpit, spread his feet a bit apart and put his hands in his pockets and paused. Oh my! How many times had I seen Mark do the very same thing?

I could go on. In three hours, so many stories were told about this godly man. Three hours of laughing and weeping. So much said, but it was not nearly enough time for all the memories to be shared.



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