On Sunday, October 8, 2017, Howard Congregational UCC enjoyed 2 beautiful services , celebrating and officially installing as Pastor, lifetime HUCC member and former worship leader, Ralph M. Thompson.
Pastor Ralph, a Nashville native, first came to Howard Congregational as a young boy in the summer of 1969, while riding his bicycle through the neighborhood. He was drawn to our little "church by the side of the road" by the smell of hot dogs cooking on the grille, the laughter of children at play and the welcoming warmth he found. He accepted the invitation to eat, join in the fun and ultimately to attend Sunday services- which he did sporadically until finally joining the HUCC family in the mid 1970's.
It was under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Wilson Q. Welch, for whom the Howard UCC Fellowship Hall is named, that Ralph began to spread his wings as a young leader. Under Rev. Welch's mentorship, Ralph became first President of HUCC Youth group, and began to serve as Liturgist, was appointed to both the Deacon and Trustee Boards and eventually found himself speaking from the pulpit for 5th Sunday services.
"In spite of my deficiencies, Pastor Welch never tired of mentoring me. He never gave up on me."
Though he will tell you without pause that he never dreamed God would use him in this way, as an official "leader of a flock", Pastor Ralph's life-work as educator and school administrator has had him engaged in community leadership and ministry to struggling youth his entire career. Throughout his work as teacher, principal and educational consultant, he has been a "father to the fatherless", a mentor and listening ear to those in need.
Answering his "official" call to ministry, Ralph received his Master of Divinity degree from Trevecca Nazarene, and was blessed to intern at HUCC under Rev.Dr. Christophe Ringer, continuing to speak on 5th Sundays and on special occasions.
"Pastor Christophe broadened the scope of my responsibilities within the church."
When Pastor Ringer left in 2015, Ralph was asked to take over as Worship Leader in the interim that covered the church's official pastoral search. " I had no plans to become pastor of the church that has meant so much to me across the scope of my life. But as the saying goes...
"God works in mysterious ways."