The Rev. J. Thomas Steele, pastor of the Moundsville Baptist Church, announced to his congregation last Sunday that he is going to retire.
He will remain in the pulpit until a new pastor is selected, providing that transpires in the next three months.
Steele has served the church for 47 years, after accepting the position on July 10, 1966.
He said at an event in his honor on his 25th year at the Moundsville Church, "I never expected to be in Moundsville this long, but things have worked out quite well. In our denomination, you receive an indefinite call and so far it has been just that."
The 47 years has given him the distinction of being the senior active clergy in Marshall County, an honor he has held for a number of years.
The ministry happened to be his third career. He started out as a teacher and coach in Virginia for four years, and then served as a Boy Scout District executive for four years before receiving the call to the ministry.
You could add a fourth career, as he has written a weekly column in the Journal section of the News-Register for more than 30 years. That column was titled, "Manna From the Mountain." He has authored two books from these columns
His 52 years in the ministry began in 1961 when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Mannington, where he served for five years.
The special events committee of the Moundsville Church gave him what they called "an honor to whom honor is due" on Sept. 17, 2011, the 50th anniversary of the actual date of his ordination into the Gospel Ministry of Jesus Christ.
The Fairmont native received his A.B. degree from Fairmont State College and his masters degree from West Virginia University. His theological studies were at Crozier Seminary and Northern Baptist Seminary.
Steele is very proud of the church's accomplishments while he has been the pastor, and is also proud of having had the opportunity to have been involved himself in many community undertakings.
Among the latter were:
- Having attended almost every veterans observance in Marshall County for 45 years, and having participated in most of them.
- Having started and having served as principal of the Moundsville Christian School. The school, from kindergarten through 12 years, started in 1980 and continued for 25 years. Currently the church offers a Pre-K school.
- He served for many years on the board of Reynolds Memorial Hospital, and on the board of B.M. Spurr School of Nursing at RMH.
- He served on the board of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce for many years, and also was the master of ceremonies for a number of the organization's annual dinners.
- He has been an active member of the Moundsville Area Ministerial Association.
- He was very proud to have received the "Distinguished West Virginian" award, presented to him by former Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr.
As to community church events, Moundsville Baptist has been presenting patriotic concerts on the Sundays prior to July 4, at which those who have served or are serving in the military were honored. This event has been held for more than 30 years.
The church choir and others church members have participated in a Christmas Eve television service for more than three decades.
Once retired, Rev. Steele and his wife, Faye, plan to remain in Marshall County.
Fred Brunner is the new president of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce board.
Brunner, who was chosen to fill the final year of a three-year term in 2013, was elected, along with five others, to serve a three- year term ending in December 2016. Serving as vice president is Beth Bertram, with Alicia Derrow as treasurer. The executive director for the 14th year is Dave Knuth.
In addition to Brunner, others elected to terms which began on Wednesday were Craig White, general manager of Grand Vue Park; Elliott Grisell, vice president of Grisell Funeral Homes & Crematory; Sharon Welsch, Mary Kay Cosmetics; Joni Grubler of Sleep Inn Hotel & Suites; and Scott Carney of Williams Ohio Valley Midsteam.
Other members of the Chamber with two years remaining of their terms are Bob Straub of Hartley & Straub Accounting; Brian Smith of Wood Health Care & Fitness Center; Beth Bertram, Marshall County Fair, Inc.; Alicia Derrow, of Paree Insurance Agency; Jeff Knierim of West Liberty University; and Neil Coffield of WesBanco.
Serving their final year are Holly Timmons, Mound View Health Care; Alicia Martin, Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union; Josh Jefferson, RED Partner; Leigh Ann Scherich, BB&T; and Chuck Ryan, Home Towne Floral.
The newly formed Moundsville Historical Landmarks Committee will be holding its first meeting this month.
Those who have agreed to serve on the committee are Hilda Blake, Candy Dobbs, Lexie Hanket, Jane Klug and Dee McDowell. The committee will be working in conjunction with the city of Moundsville Comprehensive Plan.
Through efforts of the committee the city will hopefully be able to secure grants for projects for the betterment of the city.
This year's Marshall County Business Expo will be held a week earlier than usual. The event to take place on Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Training Center within the walls of the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville.
The third annual Daddy/Daughter Dance sponsored by the city of Moundsville Parks and Recreation Board will have a Mardi Gras theme.
It will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Training Center at the former West Virginia Penitentiary. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
Those attending will dance the night away to music provided by disc jockey Donnie Gilbert.
Tickets for the event went on sale this past week and are available at the Four Seasons Pool in Moundsville. The last day to purchase tickets is Feb. 3. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The ticket price will include free refreshments, a free professional photograph and door prizes Each daughter will also receive a free treat bag and flower.
For additional information, call the recreation department at 304-845-7733.