You know, this subject of friends is really large. While writing the last blog about "friends" I was thinking of the friendship that Frances and I have enjoyed for over 50 years now. Yes, Frances is my best friend because she sticks up for me even though she knows more about me than any other human being alive today. I also thought of Mom and our "friendship" which has existed for almost 70 years. She's one of my "best" friends. I hope that all of my family members are "best" friends. My siblings; my children; my grandchildren are "best" friends. Over the years I have made many ministry friends. Some minister friends kids are close to me and a couple of their kids call me "Gramps". I'm thinking of Jack Morris, a fellow missionary. Gordon Bloodworth, another missionary friend who has gone through many experiences on the field with me. I think of Paul Fritts, a pastor in Tennessee who has been a friend for 45+ years. And if I continue to name names I will run out of time and this blog will become boring to some.
Today, I am thinking of a minister friend who has been especially close to me and who understands my heart. Even though he does not always agree with my point of view he is willing to listen to me and continue to be my friend. Edward L. Williams, "Eddie", is a person I have known since 1955. He was teaching in college when I came to Lee Academy (High School for those who wonder what academy means.) Later he became pastor of the 6th Avenue Church of God in Lenoir City, Tennessee while I was pastoring the Northside church in the same town. In the early '70's, when I was having a spiritual crisis and didn't feel like I had a friend in the world -- it came time to go to a state meeting. As I entered the meeting place some ministers I knew actually walked in another direction, (it seemed to me it was deliberate) so as to avoid having to speak to me. I'm aware that when one is feeling down it is easy to get offended. But I remember Eddie walking over to me and saying, "Fred, where are you going to sit? I want to sit with you." He may never fully understand the impact that his gesture of friendship had on me. During that time we got to know each other better. Our friendship grew. In 1985 we traveled to Guyana, S. America together to minister to the churches in that country for two weeks. We started hunting and fishing together. He went on to serve the chuch as president of Northwest Bible College in Minot, ND, served as President of our European Bible Seminary in Rudersburg, Germany, came home and Pastored distinguished churches and served on various boards and committees in the organization. One of his children recently said to me, "You know Fred, you are the closest friend that Dad has in the ministry!" What a compliment. Today he is retired but still the closest friend I have in the ministry.
Friends like this are not easy to find. So folks, hats off to Eddie Williams and to all Best Friends!
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- Fred Alton
- Cleveland, TN, United States
- I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.