“Honestly, I did not want to come here,” Tammy Trembley says of moving to McMinnville from Wichita Falls, Texas, over six years ago.
The Director of Children’s Ministry at First Baptist Church almost cancelled her in-person interview for the job. However, her father encouraged her to follow through and give small town Tennessee, a shot. So she flew in to Nashville in February 2015 to see what McMinnville FBC was all about. A cohort of enthusiastic, Jesus-loving ladies from the church (Jane Allison, Kirsten Farnham, among others) met her at the airport and immediately laid hands on her. Soon Trembley was feeling the love. “They started hugging on me and kissing on me and stuff, and I was like . . . are you kidding me? God is sending me to a small church in a small town,” she says.
The interview went well, Trembley was hired, and over the past six-plus years she has overseen the growth of the church’s children’s ministry, which now serves over 70 kids. Trembley likes building relationships with the children and parents she serves, expanding outreach and ministry opportunities, and working with other FBC staff members including pastor Jeff Owens and associate pastor John Templeton. “I feel like the synergy that this staff has with pastor Jeff and John Templeton, the youth pastor, is good. We are all three on the same page” Trembley says of herself and her colleagues.
Trembley was born in Texas, and at the age of one, her parents split up. Her father gave up his rights to her and moved away. Trembley grew up in Arlington, Texas, being raised by her mother and stepfather. At age 16, she ran away from home and was taken in by her aunt and uncle in Wichita Falls, Texas. Her aunt and uncle were faithful, dedicated Christians, and her aunt in particular became a role model to her. Living with her newfound family was how Trembley came to know the Lord and accept the Lord into her life.
Trembley eventually met her now-husband, Marshall, in Wichita Falls. The two fell in love, tied the knot, and had three children. She and her husband worked various jobs to try to make ends meet, and at one point they lived in Ruidoso, New Mexico. “We were trying to pay the rent, trying to put food on the table,” she says of that time period. Their oldest child Evan, after attending a church camp with a friend, came back home and somewhat shyly said he had become a Christian. The news made Trembley suddenly cognizant that she and her husband, in the years they had been working tirelessly to keep the family afloat financially, had neglected the nurturance of their family’s spiritual growth.
Following this minor epiphany, the Trembleys moved from New Mexico back to Wichita Falls to set up shop once again. Trembley got the family involved in her old church, First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, and took up employment there. She spent 15 years in various roles at FBC Wichita Falls, from administrative assistant to helping run the pre-school program. During that time she also went back to school (she had previous college credits from Midwestern State University) and secured a bachelor’s degree from Waylon Baptist University and a master’s degree from Liberty University.
While in her late 30s, Trembley got curious about her birth father--if he was still living, what he was like, where he was, what he was up to. She did some Internet sleuthing, found out he lived in Atlanta, thought long and hard about the situation, and decided to reach out to him via letter. Not expecting anything to come of it, Trembley was astounded when an email from her birth father landed in her AOL inbox days later, accompanied by the customary AOL announcement, “You’ve got mail.”
Trembley and her birth father struck up a correspondence, met each other and each other’s family in-person, and slowly became a part of each other’s life. In getting to know her father, Trembley realized some of the beliefs she had harbored her whole life (that her father did not want to parent and did not want to be in her life) were not accurate. She learned that in the 1970s Texas divorce and subsequent co-parenting was not a societally accepted option for couples. Her father had not given up his rights to her on account of his not loving her, but rather because he was trying to do the right thing. He wanted her mother’s new husband to be able to adopt Trembley so that she did not grow up being stigmatized as a child of divorced parents.
Trembley and her birth father enjoyed their renewed father-daughter relationship up until his passing away in 2018. Trembley is grateful she got that time with him and got to see their past separation from his point of view. “We don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives. We don’t know what’s happening from their perspective. Sometimes we need to look at a situation from different points of view,” Trembley says.
In her role as Director of Children’s Ministry, Trembley is responsible for children from birth through fifth grade. She is in charge of putting on children’s activities on Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and Sunday nights.
She operates camps and vacation bible schools, organizes special activities like the Road to Resurrection (a sensory walk-through of the passion of Christ), and has started and oversees ministries like the Beyond our Walls ministry, the van ministry and the Champions Club, which serves the special-needs children of the church.
When not at church, Trembley likes to continue the work of renovating her ancient house in McMinnville, an ongoing project for her and her husband. Trembley’s children Evan, Carolyn and Davis are all grown and moved out, so she and Marshall take great care of pets now. “We cook our dogs dinner every night,” she says.
Trembley likes coming in to work each day interacting with such great colleagues. “I feel like we’re a really good team,” she says. She also finds great fulfillment in her work with the church’s children. “I always tell people that I have the best job ever because I get to play with Play-Doh and cut and glue and color,” she says. “Being with kids all the time I feel like really keeps your heart young.”
Trembley admits she had a less-than-ideal childhood, but she sees the upside. “That’s part of my testimony,” she says. “You know, God used that to bring me where I am now. I have not had a perfect life, but if it can point people to Jesus if they are struggling with something and I can say, ‘I went through it and God brought me through,’ and other people can realize that, too, that’s the point.”