A faithful pastor who gave his life serving others was graduated to glory a couple of days before Christmas. He pastored two church plant churches early in his ministry, then pastored Grace Baptist Church of Muncie, Indiana, for 45 years, and if that were not enough, he rounded out his ministry by pastoring Temple Baptist Church in Dunkirk, Indiana, for the past eight years. You may not have known pastor Collins Glenn whom this post features, but as a tribute to him and to an unnumbered, unsung and unseen host of pastors like him, I share this tribute with you today:
Just a little over two years ago, we met here to bid farewell to a wonderful pastor’s wife, Duriene Glenn, who had labored in ministry by her husband’s side for 64 years; now we meet in God’s good providences to bid farewell to the pastor-husband whose faithful helpmeet and companion in ministry she was, who has been joined with that heavenly band of believers gone on before us to Home in Heaven. Dr. Collins Glenn, a pastor’s pastor, an under shepherd whose decades long ministry has been characterized by a passion for souls and for the shepherding of sheep, the planting of New Testament churches and the propagation of world-wide missionary endeavors. His retirement in 2012 as senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church concluding a 45-year pastorate there, established for decades to come an unwritten 21st century criterion for those desiring the office of a bishop, for those striving to preach God’s word with clarity and compassion and for those who would embrace pastor Glenn’s stated life’s goal: “Be faithfully consistent and consistently faithful.”
Writing to friends and followers as recently as December 4 from his hospital bed pastor Glenn shared that his conviction was that God’s will for all of us is to (a) Stay close to God in faith; (b) Stay obedient to God in lifestyle and service; (c) Remember that He will never leave nor forsake you; (d) Remember that you have a home in Heaven; (e) Present the gospel to every person possible and (f) Be faithful in all areas of duty remembering that circumstances must not be allowed to cause us to forsake His Church or our responsibilities in such things as prayer, giving, study, missions.
Pastor Glenn had a heart for missions and missionaries. He served 45 years on the Baptist World Mission board, a mission agency that services 300 missionaries undergirding the ministries of their respective local, sending churches. At the time of his homegoing, no other active BWM board member had served as long as pastor Glenn. Under his leadership many New Testament churches were planted. His first pastorate in Arkansas was a church-plant ministry. He loved the church and devoted himself to fulfilling in his own unique way the Great Commission. He shared with me and with others that He built Grace Baptist Church in Muncie on his Dispensational Home Bible classes.
Under Pastor Glenn’s leadership, scores of Christian young people caught his vision and shared his passion, heeding God’s call and following the Holy Spirit’s direction as He separated them to the ministry to which they were called. Upon his retirement long-time co-laborer and colleague of Pastor Glenn, Denis Ice said so aptly, “Hundreds, even thousands of Christian servants are still serving today because of your faithfulness. You have put your hand to the plow and not looked back.”
Pastor Glenn was a state and national leader in the cause of Christian Education serving under the auspices of the Indiana Association of Christian Schools and with its national counterpart. He led in the Christian Education movement founding and guiding Heritage Hall Christian School of GBC, setting the standard for Church-schools in our state and surrounding states for excellence in quality in the training and in the education of Christian young people.
He was also a leader in the Indiana Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of churches, hosting many of our meetings and serving in various capacities through the years as President and as one of the IFBF directors. His leadership was impeccable and characterized by fidelity to God’s Word and Work. He was humble, godly and authentic in both his personal and public life and labors.
The Lord called Collins Glenn to service when he was successfully engaged in business as a young man, and, answering that call he prepared himself through disciplined training and then in time was uniquely used of God until the time of his homegoing, pastoring following his 45-year pastorate at Grace Baptist, another eight years at Temple Baptist Church in Dunkirk. I submit to you that most men, upon stepping down from that many years in full-time pastoring would have considered, being in their mid-seventies, looking for a less rigorous schedule to keep than weekly commitments that the demands of a pastor entail. Not Collins Glenn: but then most men, even men in ministry, are not cut of the same kind of cloth as he:
Few men could pastor the same church for 45 years; few men could lead a large church staff year after year without experiencing some form of burn-out at some time; few men could persuade a Georgia born beauty to leave the warmth of Dixie land to spend scores of winters in Indiana; few men could listen to the multiple roastings and toasting of his dear friend Dr. Larry Hufhand and still call him “friend,” few men would have the expertise and wisdom to build a vibrant New Testament church on dispensational home Bible studies; few men pastor a lifetime and finish their work with the unqualified praise of peer pastors and the admiration statewide and nationally of Christian leaders for integrity, fidelity and excellence in the discharging of their ministry before God and men.
Years ago, William Allen White, a Kansas newspaper editor, attended a funeral procession of a pastor in his hometown of Emporia, Kansas. The widely read and award-winning editor described that funeral in words that I think are especially applicable and appropriate in our celebration today of the Life of our beloved friend, mentor, co-laborer and fellow Soldier of the Cross. I quote:
“Now a funeral procession of a pastor may mean little or much. When a rich and powerful man dies, the people may play politics and attend his funeral for various reasons. But here was the body of a meek, gentle old man—a man without purse or scrip. It won’t take twenty minutes to settle his estate in probate court. He was a preacher of the Gospel, but preachers have been buried before in Emporia without much show of sorrow. The reason so many people lined up behind the hearse that held the kind old man’s mortality was simple: They loved him. He devoted his life to helping people. In a very simple way, without money or worldly power, he gave of the gentleness of his heart to all around him. We are apt to say that money talks, but it speaks a broken, poverty-stricken language. Hearts talk better, clearer and with a wider intelligence. The old man, with the soft voice and kindly manners, knew the language of the heart and spoke it. He was infinitely patient and brave. He held a simple, old-fashioned faith in God and in His lovingkindness. When others gave money out of their store, he gave prayers and hard work and an inspiring courage. He helped. In his sphere he was a power. And so, when he lay down to sleep, hundreds of friends trudged out to bid him good-bye with moist eyes and with cramped throats to wish him an abundant entrance into heaven.
And, so, we too have come here today to bid farewell and to say “thank you, dear Brother. You have impacted our lives for good; your mark upon us is indelible. Your standard of excellence a benchmark for generations to come. You have fought a good fight, you have finished the course, you have kept the faith. Yours surely will be the reward of which Peter spake when he said that when the chief Shepherd would appear faithful pastors would receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)