CAMPBELL COUNTY (WVLT) – Rev. Glen Petree has been a fixture around La Follette for years, dating back to the 1960’s when he and his twin brother delivered the Knoxville Sentinel.
These days, those who know Rev. Petree, know him as the Director of Missions for the Campbell County Baptist Association. If you happen to know him, you probably also know Glen has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Loud Gehrig’s disease.
On Sunday the nation celebrated Fathers Day. The day was even more special to Rev. Petree, who spoke from the pulpit of First Baptist in La Follette in the morning, then returned to hear his “minister-to-be-son” Luke delivery the evening message.
"It's a unique opportunity for them and it will probably be the last time on a Fathers Day that they both get to preach on the same day," said Missy Marlow, First Baptist-La Follette.
Father’s Day started out early for Glen, who was greeted like an honored guest before Sunday services kicked off. In reality, he was more than a guest, but a dear old friend visiting First Baptist-La Follette.
His disability has caused him a great deal of pain in the past year. At one point he fell and cracked a rib, forcing him to now walk with a cane. However for a man who has dedicated his life to his faith, he refuses to give in to ALS.
"I stand before you not as one who begs or who asks for sympathy,” he told the congregation. “ I just want to thank you for allowing me to stand and to proclaim God's word.
Glen’s sermon was timely, linking the relationship between a father and his soon with a famous parable.
“It is often called the “Prodigal Son,” but the story is really not about the son, it’s about the father."
Luke is studying to become and minister, and his evening sermon partially dealt with the early history of Christian faith.
For the father and son, it was a day they will always remember.
"I was tag-teaming with dad, if you want to put it that way,” Luke said. “and with it being on Fathers Day, that makes it that much more special."
"It was moving,” said Glen, “almost to tears at times."
Luke said that his fathers battle with ALS has brought him even closer to the man he has always considered to be his hero.
“I'm appreciative of a son that's willing to help his dad, even get out of the shower,” Glen said with a smile.
Why Lou Gehrig's disease attacked him isn’t a question Rev. Petree is particularly eager have answered.
"I'll know one day,” he said, “but not right now. My prayer has been that I just stay faithful. My prayer is that I'll be faithful to the end."
In spite of his medical condition, Glen has showed few signs of slowing down. He still continues his ministry with Campbell County's 32 Baptist churches, the red cross, and several other charity groups.