Stewart retires from Forest UMC
Forest United Methodist Church celebrated with Nell Stewart at a retirement reception held in her honor this past Sunday. Stewart was recognized for over 46 years of faithful service as church secretary.
Nellie Jay Stewart began grade school at Ringgold, went to Forest at 5th grade and onward to graduate from Harperville. She furthered her education by attending East Central Community College where she obtained her certificate in Business.
Her mother, Mrs. Pauline Hardy, was the first to learn of an opening for the position of secretary for Forest United Methodist Church. “My mother worked at Thomas Great M’s,” explained. Stewart, “and when she found out about the job, she went and talked to Mr. John Bondurant and Mr. Ray Strupp about it.” These members of the Staff Parish Committee promptly scheduled an interview.
Stewart was hired in June of 1971. Pastor John Case was assigned to Forest UMC at that time. The secretaries before her had been working part-time, but Brother Case said no, she was needed on a full-time basis.
“Brother Case was good,” she said, and then added, “Do you know, I have been through eleven preachers during my years at the church.” They were Brother John Case, Brother Bill Lowrey, Brother Willis Britt, Brother H.J. Hedgepeth, Brother Lee Dolloff, Brother Russell LuQuire, Brother Milton Whatley, Brother Mike Sahler, Brother Larry Patrick, Brother Paul McDonald and Brother Trey Harper, current Pastor. “They were all different, they all had different personalities,” Mrs. Stewart remarked.
“I really enjoyed those preachers,” she said, “They were wonderful to me.” Mrs. Stewart still gets calls from them to this day, asking, “Nell are you still there?”
Mrs. Stewart smiled and shared, “The church was like a second home to me.” She added, “I wouldn’t take anything for being there. It was truly great.”