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Church surprises pastor on 50th birthday
bob parade
The children paraded in with birthday hats, banners and black balloons as the congregation sang, "Happy Birthday."

I heard about a lady who asked her friend, “You don’t think that I look fifty, do you?” Her friend said, “No, but you used to!”

There are some birthdays that nobody will let you forget.

I just turned 50 years old. You probably already know that if you drive on Highway 21 in Rincon, since somebody put it on our church sign. Everywhere I have been in Effingham County, from the high school basketball game to the bank, people have teased me about turning 50. On Saturday night, somebody also put signs in my front yard saying “Ain’t It Nifty Bro. Bob is 50” and “forked” my yard with plastic forks in the shape of the numbers 5-0.

When I got to church on Sunday morning, people were handing me birthday cards coming and going. I was getting so many cards, I didn’t know where to put them, and then somebody said, “Just put them in the box,” and I looked behind me to see a box already labeled for the collection of birthday cards for Pastor Bob.  Senior adults were telling me that I’m just a young whippersnapper, but that “it’s all downhill from here,” and little children were looking at me wide-eyed and asking, “You’re HOW old?” One of my deacons, who had recently had knee surgery, offered me the use of his cane.

I preached in the early service, and nothing happened to me. (I heard later that the congregation had considered holding up signs that said “50” when I lifted my eyes from the morning prayer, or renting a hearse to pick me up for lunch.) So after I preached at the second service, I called on the music minister to lead in our final song to dismiss the congregation. I thought I was going to escape without any more attention. But the music minister said, “Wait a minute. Stay right there for the parade.” Then as the congregation stood to sing, “Happy Birthday,” the kids from children church paraded down the right and left aisles, boys on one side and girls on the other, wearing party hats, and carrying black balloons and a banner proclaiming that fact that I had stayed alive half a century. They say my face was as red as a tomato, but I have to admit that I loved it.

I think I have a new favorite Bible verse: “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29, HCSB).

Copyright 2008 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more “Holy Humor”  at