On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gifts of Tom McKibbens to my life. Tom grew up in Mississippi and graduated from the University of Mississippi. The Rev. Marshall Blalock introduced me to Tom by giving me a copy of a speech he made at the Charleston Baptist Association on, “The Theology of Friendship.” I was immediately drawn to him. We invited Tom to be the featured speaker at The John Hamrick Lectureship in 2001. Marshall also invited him to deliver the Sunday morning sermon. The congregation fell in love with Tom. Our friendship developed immediately. Donna, his wife, is so charming that you forget that she is a top flight educator/administrator. They became adopted members of the congregation. Tom came back to speak at the church’s 325th anniversary and people still talk about the magic of that sermon. Carol and I had an opportunity to visit with them again in Atlanta at the meeting of The New Baptist Covenant Convention. Later Tom contributed a chapter, “The Minister as Friend,” to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. Tom teaches at Andover Newton Theological Seminary and is the lead pastor at the First Baptist Church of Worchester, MS. He is currently working on a history of the First Baptist Church of Boston. Tom has contributed so much to my life through his gift of being present in the moment, his caring heart, his love for all things spiritual, and his devotion to our Baptist heritage.  I enjoy reading his sermons. Tom may be a southerner by birth and disposition but he makes people feel warm and accepted no matter where he finds himself.  He has the great ability to bring a sense of peace and well-being to your life. He is the genuine article. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the presence of Tom McKibbens in my life.

            Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives. Let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of Gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.