Bob Ferguson—Robert U. Ferguson—was my pastor when I was a teenager. He was a good preacher, looked handsome in a suit, and was a strong pastoral influence for me and my family. He actually pastored the church on two different occasions and was back at the church when I was ordained to the ministry in 1970.
I have a lot of good memories of Bob Ferguson. One is of him sitting in a group of youth as he showed us how to use Bible commentaries and other material to better understand the Book of Genesis. Another was a time when he spotted me—a hapless teenager—standing at the side of the road trying to change a flat tire. He stopped, took off this suit coat, and got down on his knees to help me change the tire.
Brother Bob had another life as well. He was a pioneer among Southern Baptists in seeking peace and good will across racial barriers. This led to appointment as director of interracial relations for a state Baptist convention. I did not realize at the time how challenging and hazardous that assignment was. He was one of many people who worked, often behind the scenes, to help Baptists to see that we are all God’s people.
My former pastor passed away several years ago. His son, Bob, is pastor of a church in North Carolina. As I watched the election returns last night, I received this message from Bob: “Whether Barack wins or losses, we all win . . . and my Dad is somewhere smiling.”