It is very rare that anyone can commit to something for 50 years, but Oct. 13 – Oct. 16, the Rev. Vernell Thomas and First Lady Loretta Thomas will celebrate 50 years of ministry at Greater St. Paul Church of God in Christ, 4001 4thAve. S. in Minneapolis.

This noteworthy distinction puts them in a class by themselves. During my 13 years under their leadership, I have come to know them as a loving couple that is a model for marriages everywhere. They have impacted my life in ways that cannot be expressed in words. I would like acknowledge them again by sharing some valuable lessons that I have learned from watching and listening to them.

First, be one with your spouse. Some young couples today are making the mistake of seeking their best friends outside of their marriage. This is not the case for Pastor and First Lady Thomas, as they are truly one. When you see one of them, you see the other. I have observed their closeness, and I have seen how they enjoy each other’s company. They are truly each other’s best friend, and they have set a stellar example for others to follow.

Secondly, commitment matters. Who and what are you committed to? This is a question we all must answer. Whether in church or in marriage, you must be committed. The completion of a college degree, purchase of a home, or the raising of a family, all require commitment. My pastor and his wife have demonstrated this in over 58 years of marriage and 50 years of committed pastoring at the same church.

Thirdly, love covers a multitude of faults. Even when the people in our lives are not perfect, love makes up the difference. Love covers the shortcomings of others. Love helps, heals, and forgives. It is the standard that a marriage must be built on and a community must live by. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, we can wish them no ill or do them no harm. Greater St. Paul is known in the community as a loving church that is committed to sharing this love with others.

Finally, be excellent in everything you do. Every day in your work and personal life, you are required to give your best effort. Without God as your standard, you will never give beyond your comfort zone. I see in my pastor and first lady the example that “your best effort is your only option.”

Whatever your hands find it to do, do it with all your might. They have demonstrated that the spirit of excellence is truly how we glorify God.

These are only a few of the many great life lessons I have learned from my pastor and first lady. They are two of the greatest leaders that I have ever met. They have imparted greatness in my life. I am a better man, father, friend and community leader because of the positive impact they have had in my life. I am sure that many others in this community share my sentiment.

As the Greater St. Paul church family celebratesPastor and First Lady Thomas’50thpastoral anniversary, please join us and helping to fill the house.

Oct.13 and Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. nightly there will be a community at large celebration, and Sunday, Oct. 16there will be an official service at 4 p.m. The services will be located at Greater St. Paul COGIC.

Timothy Houston is an author, minister, and motivational speaker who is committed to guiding positive life changes in families and communities. For questions, comments or more information, go to

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