Dr. George Dillard and Good Friday
I first came to the Peachtree City area 34 years ago this coming June. I hadn’t been in town too long when I received a phone call from one of the local pastors inviting me to a weekly breakfast meeting of Peachtree City clergy. I accepted the invitation and soon became a member of the Wednesday morning breakfast group. It really wasn’t a ministerial alliance, just men (and sometimes women) who shared the same profession, from different denominations, sharing friendship, food, and life together. It was a very meaningful meeting that I would seldom miss.
When 1984 rolled around, I was asked to participate in the Community Good Friday services. The idea for the service had come from within this breakfast group a few years earlier. Seven of us would preach a 10 minute homily (less than 10 minutes was recommended) on “The Seven Last Words from the Cross.” I was a bit nervous since I was the new kid on the block and the youngest kid on the block. I also served one of the city’s smaller churches. But, again, I accepted the invitation and this year will be the 33rd time I have participated (I was unable to be in the service one year due to the death of my grandmother).
While all of us preached, and the cast of characters changed depending on who attended the breakfast meetings, the person who put in all together was Pastor Bob Tyler of Peachtree City Christian Church. The services were held at churches that were large enough to accommodate the crowd, often over 1,000, and host churches would provide special music. Bob had been involved with a similar service in Ohio and he volunteered to do the grunt work.
When Bob left the church, the then-new pastor at Peachtree City Christian, who had been Bob’s associate minister, took over putting the services together. Dr. George Dillard has done so for the last 19 years. Now, there are usually at least nine or ten ministers participating although there are still seven doing the Seven Last Words with one doing a sort of “wrap-up.”
While George assisted in putting the services together as Bob’s associate for about five years, the last 19 have all been him. He has done a marvelous job at bringing a very diverse group of pastors together to stand in unity on Good Friday. Over the years, participating clergy have included Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, Independent Charismatic, Christian, Greek Orthodox, Independent Evangelical, Charismatic Episcopal, and some I am sure I have left out. That had to be like herding cats but, every Good Friday, we gathered, stood together, and proclaimed the Gospel.
I was saddened to learn that Dr. Dillard is stepping aside and having someone else coordinate the Good Friday service. Thankfully, he will continue to participate and, hopefully, the services will go on for another 35 or more years. As I said, I was the new kid on the block and the youngest kid on the block. That is no longer true. Now, I’m the longest serving participating pastor and may just be the oldest kid on the block. Still, it is an honor to be included.
Thank you, Dr. George Dillard, for your leadership over the last 19 years of serving the entire Christian community by ensuring that these services have been continued and that they have always been of superior quality. The clergy and churches of this community and the Christians who attend the Good Friday services, owe you a debt of gratitude. Well done, good and faithful servant!
David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org