Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

June 26, 2012

Longtime pastor finds home at Bethesda

TAHLEQUAH — Gary Gilmore said he came to Bethesda Worship Center when the Lord opened the door for him to help this church.

The church accepted that assignment by congregational vote.

“[The congregation] is friendly, desires above all else to serve the Lord and it has great potential for growth,” he said. “The church motto is ‘A place of love, joy, and miracles.’ I play music, and organize all programs. I am involved in every aspect. And I do enjoy cooking.”

Judy, his wife, also participates in the ministry. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in art and Christian education from Oral Roberts University.

“I am prayer warrior, speaker, singer, webmaster, graphic designer of all our material, books, tracts, newsletters, curriculum, web sites and the gardener,” she said. “I like to present God and his message to the world.”

Judy grew up in Lebanon, Mo., singing in the car with her family, then in an a capella trio with her sisters at church, and was in band and choir in high school, as well as a traveling trio in college.

“I love being in ministry with my husband,” she said. “I assist him in any way I can. I preach to the congregation about once a month, and I am the children’s pastor. I love learning and sharing and seeing people grow in the knowledge and love of God and his word.”

As early as age 5, Gilmore remembers wanting to be a pastor.

“As best I can determine, I was called from birth,” he said. “I have always wanted to minister/pastor.”

Before coming to Tahlequah, Gilmore pastored at Southwest Christian Church in Tulsa for seven years, served as music minister at the 41st Street Christian Church in Tulsa for five years, was founding pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship in Tulsa for 23 years and at Grandview Tabernacle in Muskogee for 14 months.

His seminary studies include Ozark Christian College, in Joplin, and graduating from Dallas Christian College, Dallas.

“I have been pastoring for 41 years,” he said.

He grew up attending church in Dallas at Cole Park Christian Church and South Loop Christian Church, and in Garland, Texas at Bella Vista Christian Church.

“All of my pastors encouraged me in what they saw I desired,” he said.

They gave me opportunities to teach Sunday school, and Vacation Bible School

“They encouraged me to get involved in area youth group activities,” he said. “And Gordon Kester opened the door for me to preach, which began my preaching career. He also took me with him in visitation in homes, hospitals, nursing facilities and taught me how to print a church paper, church bulletin, and how to run a church office.

“I was never turned down in any kind of involvement in service around the church. I probably drove Gordon crazy, spending every summer in his shadow, day after day. But he never let on, if I did.”

Gilmore hopes to spread the good word, and believes many desire a return to morality.

“One of the greatest needs in our community today is a return to God and morality in all aspects of life,” he said. “As the scripture says, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,’ The way to address those needs is through teaching, prayer, and one-on-one contact.”

Judy said they’re they’re on a mission to see that Tahlequah and Cherokee County residents know Jesus and become saved.

“Our one great outreach at the present time is a Trunks of Treat event for children every Halloween, Oct. 31,” she said. “It is an alternative to the traditional Halloween.”

The closest Sunday to Valentine’s Day is their Annual Valentine's Dinner and Talent Show and they have other dinners from time to time and special meetings with guest speakers.

Gary believes Bethesda Worship Center has great potential.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “All the people are full of love and open to others.”

Services are a mixture of traditional, choruses and contemporary music, along with lots of laughter.

“Christians should be happy,” he said.

Growth, for sure, is in plans for the future, he said, and increased class offerings, fellowship opportunities and more activities for youth.

“Mentoring is the most effective method, one-on-one, to help youth develop a love for God and his word by example and precept,” he said.

“The vision for Bethesda Worship Center is to be a place where God can do what he wants to do, a place where people grow in the knowledge of Jesus, a place to discover and develop the gifts and calling of God personally, a place where people can discover their individual purpose, and a place well-known for healing.”

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