Monday, August 18, 2008

Here She Comes!!!

Fay is on the way!!!!!

At a Total Loss for Words...


Published: August 18, 2008

BRANDON - Still reeling from the deaths of their senior pastor and his 14-year-old son in May, members of Bell Shoals Baptist Church are leaning on each other again.

Simeon Nix, the church's gregarious minister of music and worship, suffered a heart attack late Saturday night and died a few hours later at Brandon Regional Hospital. He was 47.

He leaves his wife, Beth, and the two children they adopted as toddlers from Russia, Bre'Ana, 7, and Sterling, 7, as well as a church family of about 7,000.

"He had big shoes, and they will be hard to fill," said Gary Payne, the church's pastor of adult education. "He was big at heart, big at leadership and big on faith. His loss is big, but we have to believe his death was no accident and it is part of God's great plan."

Nix would have celebrated his 13th year at Bell Shoals, one of the Bay area's largest churches, in October. He was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds. He had the physical presence of a Russian wrestler but the countenance of a teddy bear and the voice of an angel, making him one of the church's most popular and respected leaders.

He recorded two solo CDs and produced several large-scale Christmas and Easter musical productions. When attendance outgrew the church's facilities, he moved the shows to the Florida State Fairgrounds for three years, drawing 10,000 people each season.

Nix Was Counseling Congregation

It was Nix who helped the congregation work through the loss of the Rev. Forrest Pollock and his son, Preston, who died when the single-engine Piper that Pollock was piloting crashed into a North Carolina mountainside May 12. Nix spoke eloquently at a prayer gathering and memorial service, directed the music and led the church's praise team in song. He kept his composure and humor most of the time on the podium, breaking down only once.

Nix continued to counsel church members still grappling with their grief and questioning their faith from the loss of their 44-year-old pastor.

"Simeon mentored a lot of people, he discipled a lot of people," said Payne, a fishing and hunting buddy of Nix's. "He was a man's man, but he was never afraid to give you a big hug and tell you that he loved you."

Nix, who also had diabetes, had complained of chest pain a week earlier. He got some medication Aug. 10; when the pain didn't subside, he saw a doctor the next day and learned he had suffered a mild heart attack. He had a stent put in that evening and remained in the hospital through Friday.

Over the weekend, he told other church staff members how well he felt. Saturday night, he even took a short walk in his neighborhood with friends.

"We thought he would just be down for the count for a little while," said Rich Nelson, the church's associate pastor of music and worship. "There was talk he would take some time off - maybe six weeks - and we were wondering what would happen to all those lives he was keeping together since May.

"People depended on him."

Bell Shoals had been in its new $24 million, 3,450-seat sanctuary for only a few weeks when Pollock and his son died in the plane crash, which remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. The church dedication hadn't even taken place.

'A Great, Big Lovable Man'

It wasn't the first time Nix had to guide congregants through a troubling time. When senior pastor Ken Alford had to resign in February 2002. Nix was part of the leadership team that kept the church running smoothly for the 10 months it operated without a senior pastor.

Pollock served Bell Shoals for 51/2 years. A search team is expected to be selected by the end of September to replace him. Although the church has been in transition, Payne said attendance has gone up by 10 percent since May.

"The church is not about the man. It's about the body of Christ working and serving together," he said.

"There are no promises in the Bible about life being easy. But there is the promise that God will be with us, and he is always faithful."

The Rev. George Thomasson, the church's senior associate pastor, stood before the congregation Sunday to offer solace and Scriptures to church members. Most first heard the news when they arrived for the 11 a.m. service.

"The Lord called him home," Thomasson said to the congregants, many of whom wept or looked shocked. "None of us anticipated it. But it was not a surprise to the Lord."

In his first week at Bell Shoals, "Simeon Nix got into my heart," he said.

"It didn't take long to understand what kind of man he was - just a great, big lovable man who loved God and people with all this heart."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

News Channel 8 reporter Indira LeVine contributed to this report. Reporter Michelle Bearden can be reached at (813) 259-7613 or

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On the road again...

We are loaded up and ready to ride!! Early in the morning we are heading north to Charleston to move Kelly into an apartment. She starts nursing school in a couple of weeks at Charleston Southern. This is the BIG move out - all of a sudden we have an empty bedroom. Marilyn, I guess that is yours. The pantry has been cleaned out, and my car can come back into the garage!! We had a great group of guys from church come over to load her up. And another group from my nephews church down the road is going to meet us on the other end. So we leave tomorrow as three, and come home to just the two of us again. I know that's how things are supposed to happen, but it doesn't make it any easier. This move and change in Kelly's life is the answer to several years of intense prayer, great doctors, great friends and an awesome support group that has loved and been there for all of us. But most of all - a God who has heard and answered our prayers for Kelly. Kaiti and Collin are meeting us for the weekend - we are seeing old friends throughout the weekend, and have a wedding on Saturday at our former church. Sunday after church - we are heading over to my Mom's. On Monday - I am in store for such a sweet treat!!! I am meeting Technonana and a dear friend who has connected with her for lunch. So after months of only talking online and by phone - we are meeting - up close and personal!! Can't wait!! Then back in another UHaul to load up furniture from Sumter, and we are on the road for home - again!! So keep us in your prayers, and especially continue to pray for Kelly. Updates to follow....

Sunday, August 03, 2008

What Our Country Needs

As the time for the election in November draws ever closer, I find myself being more and more concerned about our country and where we are heading. I am patriotic to the point of tears. I find it hard to breathe when I put my hand over my heart and pledge my allegiance to this country. I have family fighting for our freedom as I write this. I have family who have died for our freedom. I have protested in my younger years, and am not afriad to do that again - because I have that freedom. I dont want to lose the religious and personal freedoms that have been granted to me as an American citizen. I do want my daughters and their families to grow up with same freedoms that I have been privileged to enjoy all of my life. I want them to live in a safe country. I believe that we are teetering on the brink of change - change that may not ensure that these freedoms remain in place. I believe that we have to journey prayerfully into this political season. This song is my mantra over the next several months
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."2 Chronicles 7:14