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Posted: June 26, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Blessed by the church

Preacher to retire after 34 years

By Brittany Thomas/

For the past four decades, the Rev. Lawrence Lockett has worked tirelessly to fulfill God’s purpose for his life— to win souls for Christ, disciple people in Sunday school and train others to do the same.

Although it is common for the Methodist Conference to move a pastor after a few years with one congregation, Lockett has served at Prospect United Methodist Church in Covington for the past 34 years. The community is invited to attend a retirement celebration in the family’s honor at 10:30 a.m. on June 28 with a reception following.

"It has been an awesome experience here," said Lockett as he spoke of how God and the church have blessed him. "It has been God, not us."

The word "retired" takes on a new meaning for Lockett as he rephrases it as "re-fired" with the Holy Spirit. As he stood before the North Georgia Annual Conference recently, he asked his colleagues to pray that he would receive a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit and that his retirement years will be the most fruitful of his entire life.

Lockett said he loves to draw people to Christ, but he would rather train 10 people than to win 10 because he knows it will multiply. Lockett implemented the Vine Life Ministry which trains care leaders to pray for people every day, to touch them as they build heart to heart fellowship, to be there in crisis, express benevolent love and finally give a report to the pastor to elevate his day.

Born in Washington, Ga., Lockett grew up in the Thomson First UMC where he was recommended for license to preach in 1960. The Rev. Peter Manning, the Rev. Dan Brewster and the Rev. Sam Coker were mentors in Lockett’s early years. Coker challenged him to bloom where he was planted.

Although Lockett’s parents were active in the church and their family had been honored as church family of the year, they had not accepted Christ. Lockett sought counsel from men’s Bible class teacher Edith Ellington who led him to Christ and later bequeathed her entire library of more than 2,000 books to him. Lockett had the honor of leading his parents, brother, sister and aunt to Christ. During Lockett’s leadership at Prospect UMC, there have been 24,000 recorded salvations through all the ministries.

Lockett graduated from Emory University with a degree in clinical psychology. He attended the Boston School of Theology and majored in pastoral counseling. Lockett earned a Bachelor of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology and studied New Testament Greek.

Lockett and his wife, Cheryl married in 1973 and had four children - Daniel, Gabrielle, Samuel and Rachel - who are all active in the life of the church. They have two grandchildren, Wesley and Olivia, and are awaiting the birth of Remington and Isaac.

Prior to Prospect UMC, Lockett served at Centre UMC in Maulden, Mass., FUMC in Milledgeville, Vinings UMC in Smyrna and Bascomb UMC in Woodstock. Three years ago, Lockett became the associate pastor and his executive pastor, Ronny Brannen became the senior pastor of Prospect UMC.

Lockett gave countless examples of how Prospect UMC has blessed his family. In 1992, Lockett became ill with Lyme disease and was out of the pulpit for 18 months as the church continued to pay his full salary.

Lockett summed up the success of his ministry by saying he encourages people to have a greater love for the Bible – to read, study and regard it as the absolute authority in their lives, to put an emphasis on the work of the Holy SpiritCr and to turn ministry over to the laity.

Lockett plans to have dinner with long-time friend and prayer partner, Dr. Mark Rutland who is coming in for the celebration this weekend.

"Lawrence Lockett is one of a kind," said Dr. Mark Rutland, president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. "He is an absolute original. He has served the Lord for more than 40 years in the ministry. He is a soul winner, a compassionate counselor and my very best friend and is one of the people in this world that I admire the very most."

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