Serving as senior pastor of the same church for 35 years is not the norm — it’s the outlier.
Pastor Lincoln E. Montgomery and First Lady Minister Annie K. Montgomery of Tabernacle Bible Church did just that. They’re retiring Aug. 31, the day of Lincoln Montgomery’s 35th anniversary in their church’s pulpit.
They thought it was time, but Lincoln Montgomery, 72, also is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system. Chemo has been far more difficult than he had imagined.
“Quite frankly, my health has surprised and shocked me in the last year,” he said.
He also has diabetes.
Annie Montgomery chimed in immediately: “They caught it very early. We are all very optimistic that he will recover. We believe that according to the word of God that he will be healed.”
The couple — who met in high school and recently celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary — always planned to retire at the same time.
“We met at a basketball game at Wichita State,” he said. “I saw her coming and I thought ‘I owe her the privilege of meeting me.’ I stopped her in the hallway of the concourse.”
And that was that.
Sure, young love can be stormy. Bumpy. But they’ve sailed through it.
Annie Montgomery is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist. She started the counseling center at Tabernacle 24 years ago. She is also an ordained and licensed minister.
They have two children and six grandchildren who range in age from 15 to 25. Their son and his three daughters live in Wichita. Their daughter and her two boys and one girl live in Dallas.
“We’ve traveled to Dallas quite a bit over the last 15 years. It’s been a lot of fun,” Annie Montgomery said.
The church had planned a banquet for the couple, but that is on hold now while Lincoln Montgomery grows stronger. His immune system is weak, and he is staying home as much as possible.
“Our plan is to reschedule it,” he said.
“We will reschedule,” she said.
More overseas travel is likely on their agenda, but “we’re open to whatever God has for us in this next chapter,” she said. “We both have been approached about writing books. That’s something we could consider.”
“We’ve been privileged to have served this community,” Lincoln Montgomery said. “We appreciated the fact that we had that opportunity.