Knoxville (WVLT) -- If you live, or drive through East Knoxville, it's hard to imagine a time when the Baptist Tabernacle Church hasn't been a driving force.
There's a reason for that, and today was reason to celebrate.
You always know what to expect from a Sunday at the Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle Church.
Brother Bob's Church.
"God's been good to me, hasn't he," said Brother Robert Bevington.
For all of his more than 80 years, for rare is the Pastor who can say he preaches at the Church he founded.
Rarer still is to have done it for the last 55 years.
"Had no money, no members, no buildings, and nothing but the clear leading of the Lord," said Brother Bob, "and the burden of my heart for this city."
A burden grown to include two radio ministries, a newspaper, and for 37 years, the Knoxville Baptist Christian School.
Brother Bob created it all with one clear mission.
"We're going to be be an independent church, we're going to be a fundamental church, were going to be a Baptist church, and
we're going to be a missionary church," Brother Bob said. "Winning people to Christ is going to be our business."
Associate Pastor Albert Barlow was among the first.
"He's got that personality," Barlow said, "people know that he cares about them, and is going to tell them the truth.
Brother Bob's truth, about abortion?
"The world has away of changing things, like a fetus," the Pastor said. "That's a sociological term, a fetus is an unborn baby. It's a human being."
"He's not shy, he's not backward, he's always been forthright," Barlow says.
This Sunday, was homecoming.
"I've had folks from out of state and others from out of the city," Brother Bob said. "Just to see old friends, these are former members of the church, who've moved away and they came for this occasion."
Sunday was his anniversary he reminded the congregation, not his retirement.
"This is an inner city church," Brother Bob said, "we did not move out, most of them did."
Nor will Brother Bob, at least not until he knows it's time.
"I'm Pro-Christ, I'm pro-Bible, I'm pro-American," said the Pastor.
Brother Bob still keeps a more than full schedule, but he can count the number of the times he's missed a Sunday in the pulpit, and its a small one.
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