The Monette First Baptist Church hosted a golden anniversary celebration to honor their pastor, Rev. Captain Lovell, for his 50th year in the ministry.
Frank Smithee, chairman of the church deacon body, presented Rev. Lovell with a plaque recognizing his 50 years of service and the church members' appreciation for being their pastor.
Church Sunday School Director Nancy Stewart welcomed guests and invited them to attend the special reception for Rev. Lovell in the church fellowship hall following the program. Rev. Lovell and his wife, Ruby, were on hand to greet the many guests in attendance.
Rev. Lovell was born in Columbia, Tenn. He graduated from high school at Campbellsville, Tenn., and received a degree in theology at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo.
Lovell surrendered to the ministry as a soldier during the Korean War. He began his ministry at the First Baptist Church in Theta, Tenn., in 1953. He went on to pastor the Nixa, Mo., Baptist Church, the Ferndale Beach, Fla., Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church in Ash Grove, Mo., and First Baptist Church in Harrisburg. He served as pastor in Harrisburg for 20 years before taking the position in Monette in 1996.
Two tables were filled with plaques, certificates and awards received by Rev. Lovell throughout his 50 years of service. Three bulletin boards displayed pictures and memorabilia from his years as a minister. While serving in the U.S. Army he received the Combat Service Medal,The Bronze Star Medal, The CIB Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
He received the Distinguished Citizen Award from Poinsett County in 1984. He received the Distinguished Service Award for going beyond the call of duty in Poinsett County in 1986. He was nominated for the Community Service Award in serving fellow citizens by the Department of Volunteerism, State of Arkansas, Governor Bill Clinton in 1987. He received several keys to the city and
Monette Mayor David Fletcher presented Rev. Lovell with the Keys to the city, and proclaimed Jan. 25, 2003, as Rev. Captain Lovell Day in Monette.
Church youth minister Jeremy Sullivan presented Rev. Lovell with a memory box full of notes and letters from people congratulating him on his special day.
Rev. Lovell and his wife, Ruby, have two children, Donna Faye Lovell Ruf of Pleasant Grove, Utah, and Greg Scott Lovell of Jonesboro. They also have five grandchildren, Steven Ruf, Erika Ruf, Stephanie Ruf, Haley Jo Lovell and Leanna Lovell.
Rev. Lovell picked up his fiddle and joined his friends in the Monette First Baptist Gospel String Band to play several musical numbers at the close of the celebration.
"It is hard for me to believe that 50 years have already passed since I surrendered to preach," Rev. Lovell said. "It has been a joy to serve and we have met so many wonderful people through the years. I was looking back at some of my ledgers and saw where I had married 1,100 people, held over 300 revivals, and preached 1,700 funerals. Once I preached 11, three-day revivals in 11 months. So far, I have never been thrown out of a church, fired, run-off, or asked to leave. I have never woken up on Sunday morning and not had a place to preach that day.
"I preached at one church in Missouri for nine months for no money and worked at a job outside the church to make a living," Rev. Lovell said. "Finally, when they got caught up on their debts and began to grow they gave me a salary of $25 a month."
Rev. Lovell has also worked as a deputy sheriff and an auctioneer and has a great love of horses. For 17 years Lovell served as preacher for the morning worship services at the Arkansas State Championship Horse Show at the Colosseum in Little Rock. Lovell took pride in his horse, Hawk's Fury, a nine year old black gelding. The horse won the world championship Style and Pleasure Division for amateurs during the 24th annual 1995 Racking Horse World Celebration held in Celebration Arena in Decatur, Ala.
Even though Rev. Lovell retired from his Harrisburg church in 1995 he made the decision to come out of retirement to answer the call as pastor of the Monette Church in 1996.
"I felt that God wanted me to come to Monette, even though I had officially retired," Rev. Lovell said.
"I have never regretted coming here, as we are very happy in this church. We have met some wonderful friends here."
Rev. Lovell shared his three tips for becoming a good minister, which included learning to preach, commiting oneself to being a pastor and developing a good personality.
Rev. Lovell is well know and respected throughout the city of Monette as well as the state of Arkansas. He will never forget the special day set aside to relive his 50 years in the ministry, surrounded by those who came to visit and help him celebrate.