In the fall 2010, Bryan invited me to be a part of an annual fundraiser billed as “Humor on the Square” in his hometown of Talladega, Ala. Each year, he asked a couple of his “speaking friends” to donate their talents for the event. I was honored when he asked me.
While in Talladega for the weekend, he invited me to attend his Sunday school class. It is called the Whosoever Will Men’s Bible Class.
The class met in an aging brick house located across the parking lot from Bryan’s church. Started in 2007, the class had grown to more than 60 strong with an average Sunday attendance of 35. In the few years leading up to my visit to Talladega, that class was a major part of our conversations. Bryan was passionate about his Sunday school class.
I wrote about his class in my column back in 2010. In case you missed it, here are the four class rules:
• No one is asked to read.
• No is asked to pray.
• You can come as you are with no dress code.
• No one will hassle you if you miss class.
In the ensuing years, Bryan Townsend became my best friend in the speaking business – for a number of reasons. First, he was unashamed to express his love for Christ. Second, he was a really good man. Third, Bryan’s Sunday school class inspired me to start the Whosoever Will Men’s Bible class in Hartsville. In the few short years that followed, we discussed the progress of our classes on a weekly basis.
The Whosoever Men’s Bible Class in Hartsville began in February 2012. We are up to about 100 members with an average attendance of 55-60 each Sunday. The class meets at the Early Bird Cafe in Hartsville each Sunday morning – biscuits and coffee at 8:30, class from 8:45-9:30.
On Sept. 28, 2012, his birthday, my friend, Bryan Townsend suffered a massive hemorrhagic stoke. The doctor said he was dead before he hit the floor. He was 64. And, quite frankly, it left me with a hole in my soul.
Before his untimely death, Bryan had planned to visit my class, and he had just finished seeing one of his dreams come true.
An organization called Carpenters for Christ had just put the finishing touches on a brand new building, which now houses the Whosever Will Men’s Bible Class in Talladega. Of course, Bryan was the driving force behind the building project.
I was left with this reality firmly fixed in my heart and mind, Bryan Townsend planted; others have watered. It will be God who gives the increase.
The death of a close friend will make you re-evaluate how you will use the time you have left, which brings me to this.
If you are a man living in comfortable driving distance of Hartsville, you are invited to attend the Whosoever Will Men’s Bible Class of Hartsville. We serve biscuits and coffee at 8:30 on Sunday mornings. Class begins promptly at 8:45 and ends at 9:30. We meet at the Early Bird Café in Hartsville.
So far, we have delegations making the trek from Macon, Smith and Sumner counties Sunday mornings.
Bryan Townsend started something special. I’m just trying to stay out of God’s way and allow Him to do His work.
Jack McCall is a regular contributing columnist to The Hartsville Vidette and Democrat.