Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Tinsley will give his last sermon at the Buena Vista church Sunday.
The Rev. Carl Tinsley
Friday, June 21, 2013
The Reverend Carl Tinsley of Roanoke will deliver his last sermon as pastor of a Rockbridge County church Sunday, but he readily admits that he's not through preaching.
Tinsley, a retired railroad man, a civic leader and Roanoke City's 2012 Citizen of the Year, has traveled 100 miles on Sundays to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Buena Vista for the past 22 years.
In addition to Sunday morning services, Tinsley conducted other weekly ministerial duties such as Bible study and visiting church members, often accompanied - and lately driven - by his wife, Yuvonne. Additionally, he serves as chairman of the Roanoke City Electoral Board.
"I've got some lovely people ... I hate to leave but it's time for a change," Tinsley, who turned 80 in early June, said of retiring from First Baptist.
Age and lung cancer have tilted Tinsley's 6-foot-2-inch frame, slowed him down and softened his tone, but his humor hasn't lost its candor.
During a June 15 retirement celebration, more than a dozen ministers were among the 150 or so guests who gathered to recognize Tinsley's 42 years in the ministry that included pastoring churches in Cloverdale, Catawba and Natural Bridge.
They called Tinsley's sermons "down to earth" but ribbed the Franklin County native about his singing abilities to which he replied, "Y'all might not appreciate it, but I love my singing. Everybody has a song they can sing."
Singing inspires him, Tinsley said during a later interview, adding, "It always was a challenge."
As for his call to the ministry, Tinsley, a father, grandfather and uncle who has helped rear other family members, said, "I knew all my life that God had called me. I was special, but I was waiting on a sign."
His first church originally had been in a log cabin used by migrant workers in the Catawba Valley. At one point the church only had five members, and "I didn't have sense enough to leave" until a storm took off the roof and destroyed the logs.
The five members scattered to other churches, Tinsley said, "but I was still their pastor."
Although he knew he was called to preach, Tinsley said he had no intention of being a civil rights activist or community leader when he moved to Roanoke in the early 1950s.
"All I wanted to do was get married, have a good job and raise my family. But I couldn't hold my peace with racism and unfairness around. I couldn't stand on the sideline and let wrong be done."
That philosophy helped him work his way up the ladder of the railroad industry.
Borrowing from the gospel song "I Won't Complain," Tinsley coos, "I've had some good days; I'll had some hills to climb," explaining how he went from scrubbing halls in the old Roanoke police office and cleaning Lewis-Gale Hospital when it was in Roanoke to becoming the first black clerk in the traffic department of what was then the Norfolk and Western Railroad.
He also worked himself through business school and Bible college and dealt with the death of a son who was in the military.
"Being a country boy who never had any money," Tinsley said, he had fibbed about his age to get his first job and to get into the military, where, he said, he witnessed the integration of the Navy.
Tinsley also was vocal about jobs for other blacks and once had a reputation of "raising hell with my boss" over equal pay.
His work with the NAACP and the Democratic Party coincided with going into the ministry as he worked beside Roanoke activists such as the Rev. Charles Green, businessman A. Byron Smith and fellow railroad man A.L. Holland.
Tinsley says he's retiring only from being a full-time church pastor.
"I will keep on preaching and ministering," he said.
His parting advice to the Buena Vista church: "You are not going to find another Carl T. Tinsley, so don't go looking for one. Bring a pastor here and treat him right."
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall