Pastor Sammy Lee is 73 years old and is showing no signs of letting up.
“As long as I can still flap my gums, I’m not going to stop,” said Lee, the pastor at First Assembly of God at 112 Club Drive. “I have more life left in me. As long as my health holds up, I’m going to stay committed, keep my nose in the book, and keep on grinding.”
This Sunday, the congregation at First Assembly of God will be honoring pastor Lee and his wife, Brenda, for 30 years at the church. Guest preacher Glenn Burks will be delivering the sermon at 11 a.m., followed by a potluck dinner afterward. Everyone is welcome.
“I’m glad they’ve been able to put up with me for 30 years,” said pastor Lee, who has a total of 40 years in ministry. “To me, I’m honored to be here with the same people, learning about them as I go. We’ve had some deaths through the years. We’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. It’s about having a relationship with everybody here. For me, I’m more or less the cheerleader. I’m not the boss. I’m the pastor.”
Preaching is in the blood for the Lee family. His father, Charles O. Lee, preached for over 60 years and is actually the one who started First Assembly of God in the early 1950s on Morningside Drive.
“A bunch of people from in town were driving out to Mt. Zion to go to church so they decided to build a church in the 1950s to make it more convenient for everyone,” said Lee. “In 1974, it moved to its present location.”
First Assembly is known for its food booth at the Warren County A&L Fair. Lee said the church began renting its fair food booth in 2006, the same year the congregation built a large gym on its property.
“Over $100,000 from the food booth went to pay off the gym building,” said Lee. “Some people told us we were spending way too much when we decided to build it, but it was a leap of faith. We paid over $330,000, interest included, but we’ve got it all paid off now.”
Pastor Lee says the congregation has a little more than 100 people when everyone shows up. He said it took months for numbers to rebound from COVID, and some people have not returned, but the majority is back, he says.
Lee estimates he’s delivered more than 4,400 messages during his 30 years at First Assembly of God. His main challenge?
“I’m constantly digging to find something new to talk about,” he said.