Twenty-eight years of preaching the word of God has been a very good life for Pastor Nolen Brunson and the three years he has been at the Methodist Church “have flown by” he says.
I first sat down with Pastor Brunson in the late summer of 2009 when he came to the Lafayette United Methodist Church as their new pastor, and it’s hard to believe only three short years later he is retiring at the age of 66.
Nolen came to Macon County at a time when people were still struggling with the aftermath of the 2008 tornado and the untimely death of the Methodist preacher, Michael Welch, and his family, in a car accident only days after the twister touched down. And I remember well, the preacher telling me that he had always felt the Holy Spirit in one way or another, and I could see he was ready for the challenge of a new church. Since that time, we have become good friends and I can honestly say that I have always found Nolen’s zest for life very refreshing.
The pastor said that he was apprehensive when he first came here, because he knew this church was still grieving, and he wanted to serve a church that was alive. “But I very quickly found out that Interim Pastor Russ Cain had did a fabulous job with the Holy Spirit waking the church back up,” the preacher said.
“They wanted to do things, so I deepened my prayer life and asked God what he wanted us to do and shortly after we began the Prayer Shawl Ministry,” he recalls. “And after that there was no stopping us.”
The preacher and his wife, Gay, have loved it here in Lafayette and he was humbled by the congregation responding to his leadership in their relationship with God. “This church has grown,” said Nolen, “and everybody, including the pastor, needs to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. How could I lead somebody to Him, if I didn’t know our Redeemer myself. He directs all of us, if we will just listen.”
Nolen can talk about any subject off the cuff and I know he cares a lot about Lafayette and the people here. He told me three years ago that he’d always loved his work with the Lord and that he cherished lifting people’s spirits during challenging times by sharing a smile, a word of hope, or just a simple pat on the back.
“I will take the love of a lot of Lafayette people with me,” said the retired pastor, who has moved back to Fayetteville, “along with many friendships. Gay and I have come to love it here and we will continue to be members of the Macon County Arts Council. We plan to come back to see everyone and also play a little golf.”
The preacher will remain active in his missionary work and he said he would take an assignment if he were ever needed anywhere.
“I would like to thank everyone for the beautiful church and for allowing me into their hearts and lives,” said Pastor Brunson, “and I certainly enjoyed being a part of the family at the Lafayette United Methodist Church.”
Nolen Brunson looks back happily on his 28 years as a preacher. “It was the idea of serving others that drew me to the ministry to begin with and it’s been a really good life.”