At the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly this past week I experienced an event that was an unbelievably bittersweet moment for me as a man, a Gospel minister and the Pastor of a church I love, Briarwood. The moment was when I had the privilege to read a Memorial that was received and adopted by the PCA Denomination to honor the life, legacy and ministry of Dr. Tom Cheely who served Briarwood for 31 years as perhaps the most faithful and effective Missions Pastor any church could ever hope to have. What Tom did to propel Briarwood forward in fulfilling the Great Commission as a local church and what he did for our denomination as well as for the Kingdom as he served so many wonderful parachurch missionary agencies is almost staggering. Many have asked to see the Memorial so, with permission of our leadership; I have included it in this blog. I think you will enjoy reading it and I invite you to spend some time as you walk through it and meet, at least to some degree, a man of God, by the grace of God, who served effectively for the glory of God.
Whereas, on May 7, 2014 after he had “served the purpose of God in his own generation,” our Creator and Author of the destiny of all men, in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to call from our midst Teaching Elder, R. Thomas Cheely into His glorious presence, and;
Whereas, in1969 Tom Cheely was ordained to preach the Gospel and has faithfully kept his ordination vows through continually affirming his belief that the Scriptures did not “become the Word of God” or “contain the word of God” but the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, are the inerrant Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and;
Whereas, during his forty five years of serving the Lord he pastored several churches before accepting the call in 1983 to minister at Briarwood Presbyterian Church as its first Missions Pastor, and;
Whereas, for thirty one years as Missions Pastor, he faithfully served the Lord at Briarwood Presbyterian Church by undertaking each and every responsibility with diligence, grace, and focus always seeking to honor Christ through leadership to reach the world for Christ through “tenacious and tender” leadership, and;
Whereas, his leadership was blessed by the Lord through ministering to and supporting 500 foreign missionaries in 70 countries around the world through his visiting missionaries in all continents through personal encouragement and participation in the ministry work, and;
Whereas, he also lead the Briarwood Ministry initiatives to plant and revitalize churches as well as send missionaries to evangelize and disciple locally, in Birmingham, regionally, in Alabama and nationally, throughout North America with extraordinary vision and effectiveness, and:
Whereas, he faithfully provided leadership to Evangel Presbytery and the General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in America and was widely recognized for his denominational leadership and participation on numerous General Assembly and Evangel Presbytery committees, and;
Whereas, he also faithfully and effectively provided visionary as well as strategic leadership for various para-church mission agencies, projects and endeavors, and;
Whereas, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, it’s membership, fellowship, and leadership will miss greatly his presence yet knowing that the Lord “does all things well” and is grateful that Teaching Elder R. Thomas Cheely in his thirty one years of serving the Lord as Missions Pastor, the cause of Christ was advanced through Briarwood’s commitment to “equip Christians to worship God to reach Birmingham to reach the world for Christ.”, now:
Therefore Be It Resolved, that Evangel Presbytery does note the death of our brother in the Lord, with a deep sense of loss and sorrow by acknowledging that a “prince in Israel” has fallen yet because of the Gospel a “prince in Israel” has been promoted, we offer the prayer of thanksgiving for the life of Teaching Elder, Reverend, Doctor R. Thomas Cheely as he lived among us and served the Lord so faithfully. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Evangel Presbytery rejoices in the full and certain assurance that our brother is in the presence of God to worship Him throughout eternity. To God be the glory, honor and power, both now and forevermore, Amen, and;
Further Be It Resolved, that this Resolution be approved as a Memorial by Evangel Presbytery and that Evangel Presbytery likewise forwarded this memorial to the 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America and;
Further Be It Resolved, that this Resolution be spread upon the minutes of the Evangel Presbytery and that a copy be furnished to his wife, Kathy, as an expression of Evangel Presbytery’s deep appreciation for the life, testimony, and forty-five years of ministry by Teaching Elder R. Thomas Cheely to the Kingdom of God.
I do hope and pray this Memorial has been an encouragement. Now I would ask that you join me in prayer asking that our Lord might raise up, for the sake of the Kingdom, more Gospel servants who, like Tom, are unalterably committed to the Great Commission, the exaltation of Christ and the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the Gospel of the Kingdom for the Glory of the King.
For Christ, the Gospel and His Kingdom,