Newton Falls, Ohio is a pretty small place to make much of a mark on the world, although it does have neighbors like Canton and Akron. Lillie McCutcheon helped her mother, then took oversight of a small congregation begun by her mother in this northeast Ohio town. She shepherded it for four decades, leaving a flock numbering several hundreds. Revered as “Sister Lillie” this successful pastor, evangelist, radio minister and author has now graduated to the beyond, but she lives on in the memory of a multitude.
Many remember her as the author of The Symbols speak--a consistent seller at Reformation Publishers. The unseen Spirit of Lilly broods over the Pastors Fellowship as it meets annually in Winchester, Kentucky. This regional meeting will gather again in a few days--May 2-3, much as it did the past thirty-five years.
I tend to think most people remember her for her reincarnation of F. G. Smith’s writings on the biblical book of Revelation. Although now held by only a minority within the church, this seems how most now remember her.
On the other hand, I recall male preachers in past decades poking fun as they callously mimicked her high-pitched female voice (lady preachers were not at all respected in some quarters). One instance came after she challenged the view of a respected Ohio leader, saying, “Why Brother _, I am surprised at you …”
I have not forgotten those men making great sport of her behind her back (involving at least one close friend of mine). The time came, however, when Sister Lillie gained maturity and earned much respect within the national church.
She led her church in successful growth that made her flock a leader in the Movement. Over time, she succeeded as a community spokesperson, a radio-TV personality, and a highly successful pastor, evangelist, counselor, author and doctrinal interpreter (theologian ?). In time, she became a national figure. By her success, the magnetism of her personality, the force of her powerful intellect, and her public appeal as a powerful lecturer who seldom, if ever, used notes, she earned respect.
I watched her up-close some years ago and saw her giftedness while serving as a Camp Meeting Evangelist, and again as she counseled a troubled lady from my congregation. I see another aspect that is frequently mentioned yet scarcely recognized.
Perhaps we know her best, not for those years of service, or her gifts as a leader and author, but perhaps by the quality of her influence on people she touched as she passed by. People touched by her grew into potential leaders, they attended our educational institutions, and they serve among us.
Barry Callen had a distinguished career at Anderson University and School of Theology. Barry is perhaps our most prolific author and interpreter of Church of God life. The Norm Patton’s went to school in California, and after a successful venture in Santa Cruz they came back to successfully lead our Global Missions program before returning again to the pastorate. I admired Norm’s preaching skill!
Robert (Bob) Moss developed a small church in Cody, Wyoming, then moved back east and led St. Joseph, MI to become the state’s largest congregation. After serving with Indiana Ministries, Bob now is investing heavily at Salem, in Dayton, Ohio.
There was a young farm girl back in Newton Falls that came to Christ through Sister Lillie. She went to Bible College and launched into pastoral ministry, just like her mentor--Jeannette Flynn. Jeannette launched a successful career with Gerald Marvel, then served as Senior Pastor at Walla Walla, WA, before giving fifteen years to our national agencies,
Jeannette recently relocated to the Church of God in Florida. An extra responsibility she will carry is the editorship of the magazine Truth Matters--newest publication of Pastor’s Fellowship. Working from her Florida base with her associates, computer technicians, and writers, Jeannette compiled a practical introductory issue, that could powerfully impact the church. Emphasizing truth, it promises potential breadth that could prove prophetic in power.
Barry Callen; the Norman Pattons’; Bob Moss; Jeannette Flynn; each touched by Sister Lillie. Most of us would be happy to introduce any one of them into the church. They are but four--perhaps the best known--of many touched by the shadow of Lillie McCutcheon in smalltown Newton Falls, Ohio.
If there were no more than these four, these would be sufficient cause to pay tribute to Lillie McCutcheon. I have long since moved beyond her interpretation of The Symbols Speak, but I recognize the powerful impact of one of God’s anointed when I see the impact of these four people in the church; all of whom I count it an honor to number among my friends.
God give us more such pastors who can impact lives as they pass by.
From Warner’s World,
I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com