Updated with funeral information
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Glenn Weekley, senior pastor of one of the top baptizing churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., died Sept. 11. He was 59.
Weekley, who recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at the church, passed away six days after suffering a heart attack. He had been ill for at least two months following a mini-stroke this summer, and then subsequently was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that can affect much of the body. His final sermon from the pulpit, on July 22, was on “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Under Weekley’s leadership, FBC Hendersonville grew from approximately 2,700 members in 1987 to more than 8,900 members today. The congregation is one of only about 30 churches in the SBC to appear in the top 100 in both baptisms and Cooperative Program giving.
The church may be best known to some people as the one that hosted the funeral services of Hendersonville residents Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
“Bro. Glenn had the ability to make a big church feel small,” said Richard Gaia, who came on board at FBC Hendersonville shortly after Weekley arrived and currently serves as the church’s minister of education. “He was from south Alabama and he never tried to pretend like he was from anywhere else. You just felt like when you came to church you were home. That made people feel comfortable.”
Weekley, Gaia said, was “exactly the same Monday through Saturday as he was on Sunday.”
“There was no pretense,” Gaia said. “Bro. Glenn never became a mega-church pastor. He always continued to put people first and the church first and it was never about him.”
Weekley guided the church during extensive expansion, including a relocation period in 1990-91. A $16 million family ministries center is scheduled to open this year.
He was named chairman of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations in June and formerly served on the board of trustees of GuideStone Financial Resources. He often told church members his personal mission was “to go to heaven” when he died and “take as many with him as he could.” He also urged them to “keep the main thing the main thing.”
“He was a man of great faith, a man who was an ardent preacher of God’s Word,” Gaia said. “He never pulled any punches there. He was strong in preaching the Word, but he did so with grace. He never beat you up with the Bible, but he never backed off what the Scripture taught. And people appreciated that about him. They saw him speaking the truth in love.”
That faith was put on display when he was hospitalized.
“He’s had a number of physical problems over the years, and it seems that whenever he was in the hospital, he was ministering,” Gaia said. “People were amazed at his spirit and his faith. He never complained about his circumstances. He was such an inspiration to us because of that.”
Weekley is survived by his wife Cathy and three adult children.
The funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Central Friday at First Baptist Church in Perdido, Ala.
Memorial services will be held Sunday at 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Central time at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.
Michael Foust is assistant editor of Baptist Press.