Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

Sunday Mornings:

9:30am Sunday School
11:00am Worship

Wednesday Evenings:

5:00pm Dinner
6:00pm Bible Study

200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131



On Accidental Saints Over 50 Years

As most of you know, this past month I turned 50.  Half a Century.  I’ve told several of you that while we speak of 40 being the “over the hill” moment, this seems to be more like it.   My college friend, in for a weekend to help me celebrate said, “So where are you and Leigh Ann looking to retire?”  First person ever to ask me that question.  Don’t remember that happening at my 40th.  He then went on to talk about a dinner he had attended with several of our college classmates.  He said that early in the meal they were all congratulating one another on how young they looked, but then when the checks came, they all pulled out reading glasses, and as he put it…”Busted!”  Again, don’t remember hearing/telling that story at 40, let alone relating to it.

So, I’m here, at 50, whatever that means, if anything.  But it does seem like a more than adequate time to reflect on who I am and where I’ve been and those who have helped me along the way….my champions, my saints you might call them.  November 1 is All Saints Day.  We will observe it in two distinct yet significant worship services, both in our traditional worship at 11:00 and in Modern Vespers at 6:00.  I hope that you will make plans to be at both.  The theme of the Modern Vespers service is “Accidental Saints,” the idea being that many such folk did not set out to be saints, but nonetheless were saints for us, despite being flawed, not perfect, very much human.  

In thinking about that I began to think of my “accidental” saints over this half a century I’ve been given. There are other more likely saints, of course, but these accidental saints have played a most necessary role as well. They may not be on the front row of my balcony crowd, but they are there, and their contribution has not been forgotten.  

I think of my Dixie Youth baseball coach, J.W. Shanks.  Coach Shanks was a chain smoking telephone repairman.  He supposedly was a member of my church, but I never saw him there.  His religion was coaching baseball.  But he taught me about hard work and discipline.  He taught me about fairness.   And he taught me about compassion and justice.  In addition to a few of us from good homes, he would intentionally draft and support players nobody else wanted.   And with the likes of us, he won championships.

I think of Dr. Ed Akin.  To many Ed was a likely saint.  He was a history professor who was a beloved mentor.  But Ed was merely my sophomore honors professor, and that only for two months.  And when in a crisis, I came to drop out, he simply said, “Don’t worry about this.  You do what you need to do.  You’re going to make it.  You’re going to make a difference in this world, David.”  I’ve never forgotten that blessing and the lesson he taught me about the power of even a few words.

I think of Teresa, the manager of the music store where I worked during seminary.  Teresa drank too much and was endlessly chasing after the wrong guy.  But she was a good boss, and she loved me and Leigh Ann, and especially Hannah when she was a baby.  She would take Hannah in her arms and dance her around the store singing “The Name Game.” (Hannah, Hannah bo banana…)   That store became a place of refuge for several us who were in Seminary at a very difficult time.

These are a few of my “saints.”  Make a list of your own.  Bring it to worship on November 1.  Carry it with you.  Write, contact some of them this month.  Make sure to include the likely ones, but include the “accidental” ones as well, those on the second and third rows of your balcony.  They too have been used of God to enable you to be who you are.  May it also be an encouragement to the difference you can make in the lives of others.

Grace, David

This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the November edition of Together.
Posted by Bridget Ellis at 7:00 AM
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200 East Parkway North, Memphis TN 38112
Office: 901.454.1131 ⋅ Fax: 901.454.1135
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