OKMULGEE, Okla. — After more than six decades serving his church, an Okmulgee pastor is stepping down.
This past Sunday, Rev. Preston W. Jackson gave his final sermon which he says was bittersweet and emotional.
“Before you know it, time has moved on,” Rev. Jackson said.
He's called First Baptist Church Central home for 63 years. Now he’s leaving that role. On his last day he says people from all over came to say goodbye.
“I was surprised by the number of people who showed up. I guess I had my pictures taken 200 times," he said.
He started preaching in 1952.
“Inwardly, I had this compelling urge that I was a preacher,” Rev. Jackson said.
During his time as a pastor, he says there were good days and bad but overall it was a blessing. In his role he says he’s tried to encourage, comfort, and lift up his congregation.
“What’s rewarding is a lot of times they will come back and remind me of things I told them that I wasn’t really aware of, so people do as much for you as you do for them,” he said.
But even after 63 years this isn’t the end for him. He plans to still be involved in the church.
“This is a new experience for the whole church so whatever I can help them with I’m available,” he said.
He says he’ll be helping them find the next pastor. Someone he hopes is young and willing to stay just as long as he did if not longer.
"Someone who will come in and love the church. Do what he can for the church and stay with the church. I wouldn't like for them to get a pastor who decide he's going to leave after three months or six months."
For the next generation of pastors, this is his advice, "it's something that you can't quit. Once you start preaching, it has to be a part of you. You don't have to pastor but you can preach and you have to be dedicated."
While he’s no longer in his prominent role within the church, his legacy is here to stay as the street in front of the church was named after him.
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