|VAUGHN: Compelled to midstate, pastor looks to future
|Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2011 5:03 am
| Email Print
Stephen Atwood, 60, has preached the gospel in the war zones of the Middle East and many places in America.
Stephen and Janealle Atwood (Photo submitted)
I found his ministerial career interesting when he and I recently sat down in his home near Eagleville.
He reminisced about his walk in the Christian faith as we also talked about his current support for churches and ministers who are in transition.
Education wise, Atwood has a repertoire of credentials and degrees to get the job done: Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge in Arkansas, Union University in Jackson, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and Princeton University in New Jersey.
That training is only a part of Atwood’s unique
He was a captain and later a major in the U.S. Army as chaplain at Fort Hood, Texas, and then later served as a combat chaplain in operations Just Cause and Desert Storm.
Stateside, he has been a pastor at churches in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. He also conducted programs and written study materials for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Wanting to be near their children and grandchildren in Murfreesboro, Atwood and his wife, Janealle, returned to this part of Middle Tennessee.
Just as compelling was the couple’s desire to follow where the Lord would lead them.
For example, Janealle was an assistant to the mayor in Huntington.
Mayor Dale Kelly, a friend and supporter of Gov. Bill Haslam, suggested that she accept a position with the new administration in Nashville as assistant to the director of legislation.
In the couple’s minds, that job offer was God’s way of opening a door and providing them with a confirmation to leave Huntington.
Atwood said they prayed the perfect prayer: “Thy will be done.”
Atwood is convinced there is a role for him in the Middle Tennessee area, either as a pastor or helping churches and ministers during an interim transition.
He has recently preached 15 times in nine different churches and is available upon request.
While reminiscing, he shared some interesting stories from his ministerial career.
Several months ago, he got a call from a minister in Atlanta, who introduced himself and asked the question, “Are you the Army chaplain who was the senior pastor at the 19th Street Chapel in Fort Hood back in the 1980s?”
He answered in the affirmative.
Then the caller said, “You preached a message titled ‘Has God got Your Ears.’ That message changed my life. I want you to know that I am now pastor of a relatively large church in Atlanta. I hired a detective to track you down where I could tell you first-hand how the Lord and you changed my life forever.”
Tears welled up in Atwood’s eyes as he shared that story.
He also remained emotional while reminiscing about his time in the Middle Eastern war zone during Operation Desert Storm, where he preached and ministered to congregations of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne – sometimes as many as eight services a day. He was also versed in counseling the soldiers.
“One night a young soldier came to my tent and said that he was near the breaking point,” Atwood recalled. “He even mentioned the word suicide. We talked about his family, his faith and the opportunities waiting back home in America. Afterward, he thanked me and said that he felt a restoration in his spirit and the renewed courage to move on. That was a wonderful blessing from
We ended our visit when he added, “I trust the Lord to open the next door for me. If a church needs help during a transition, I am available as an interim pastor, or if a minister needs advice during a time such as that.”