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Rev. Verge retires after 60 years

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 8:00 am

Rev. R.C. Verge with his wife, Edna Faye. (Submitted photo)

Pastor Perkins assumes role as pastor


After 60 years of ministry, Reverend R.C. Verge of the Sevier Street First Baptist Church is retiring at the age of 90.

Pastor Quintin Perkins will be taking his place as lead pastor. A ceremony was held last Sunday to recognize the transition.

“Trust in God. Have faith in God,” Verge said. “You have to learn to take the hurt with the good. The Bible says your days are number and we know we can’t stay here and we don’t know when we’re going to leave here. So get yourself a path for the unexpected.”

There’s been one theme that has dominated Pastor Verge’s life and it’s Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want.”

“The Lord has made my life see more light and he has made my life able to understand how to treat people, how to live, how to get along with my wife. Mean people, I can talk to them if they listen, and I don’t get angry with people.”

He said if he had his life to do over again, he would do exactly what he did and serve in ministry.

“I don’t have complaints about it. Sometimes it was rough and sometimes good. But I really enjoyed it. If I was younger and had to do it all over again, I would,” he said.

For some preachers the call to the pulpit is a dramatic experience, while for other it’s more subtle. Pastor Verge is the latter of that.

“I really didn’t have plans. I really wanted to work and take care of my family. I just wanted to be an ordinary person.”

Originally from Huntsville, Ala., Verge grew up in a Baptist church. He was baptized at the age of 20, and when he was 23, he was called to go into preaching fulltime.

“There was a service going on at church and there was a preacher preaching…and something told me that’s what I wanted to be,” he recounted. “I didn’t have a choice. I was called to preach by God. I got a message that I needed to preach.”

Verge has been married to his wife, Edna Faye, for 63 years. Together, they had five children, 12 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

He attended a Baptist seminary school in Nashville. Through a friend, he became a part of Sevier Street Baptist Church when it was at its old location.

Over the course of his 59 years with them, he said he’s probably met 800 or more people through the church.

“I like people, and I like talking to people and doing things for people,” said Verge.

Out of them, however, the young people were often the most challenging to reach.

“At one time I had about 125 young people. The most challenging was getting them to see the light and get them to make something out of themselves and grow up to be what God would have them to be,” said Verge.

His advice is simple: get an education and treat people the way you want to be treated.

In addition to preaching the gospel, serving and loving people is the most important thing a church can do for a community. For Sevier Street Baptist that looked like providing free Thanksgiving meals and helping neighbors if their AC broke and just visiting with people.

Oftentimes, practical actions of service can go a long way.

“Just live right and treat people right, that’s what I did,” he said, crediting this philosophy to his long life.

Now he’s wanting to step down and let a “younger person” take over.

“I think he’s a fine young man,” said Verge, referring to Pastor Quintin Perkins. “I would like to see him make progress, build the church, build more room in the church, get more members in the church and lead them like I did.”

Meanwhile, Verge said he will be tending to his vegetable garden in his retired time.

Pastor Quintin Perkins

Bridging the generations

Perkins’ grandparents were from Shelbyville and his grandmother was even an attendant at Sevier Street, so he is no stranger to the area.

But how Perkins got into ministry was similar to Pastor Verge: he had no choice but to answer the call.

“You live life a particular way and then God calls you out. He calls you out of this dark place into a place of light,” he said.

After graduation from college at Missouri Valley College and working as a DJ, he went to a church in town where he heard a message that changed his life forever.

The pastor was preaching about David and Bathsheba. “He talked about all the things David did. But by the end of the sermon he talked about even though he had done all these terrible things, he was still called a man after God’s own heart.

“And that changed me.”

It made him think–and now he wants his ministry to make other people think.

After hearing that sermon around age 24, Perkins began reading his Bible and seeking the Lord. And through a series of confirmations, he had seemingly random people come up to him and tell him, “The Lord has a plan for you.”

“I never was going around trying to evangelize people. People were coming to me,” he said. Whether they were at a doctor’s office or the gym, Perkins knew God was calling him.

“There’s no choice here. This is what you’re going to do,” he said.

“Over the course of that year and a half, all the markers were hitting. And I was like, ‘Alright, I hear you.’ And I just started reading the Bible, trying to figure out who God was. And the more I tried, the more He was showing me who He was.

“God doesn’t hide from you.”

Through that, he concluded God existed, that He loves people and has a plan for them, and has their best interest at heart.

“Once I found out He was real, I took Him seriously.

“Sometimes God opens doors you’re not looking for, you’re just walking down the hall. And that’s kind of how it’s been: I’m just walking through doors,” he said.

In 2015, Perkins became involved in the House of Prayer Ministry. Admittedly, he said he was hesitant at first to get involved, but he eventually became involved in the choir, then served as a music leader and children’s minister after hearing a sermon about “using your gifts for God.”

“The voice of the Lord said to me, ‘You know you’re supposed to be up there, right?’ And I said, no, I don’t sing in front of people. I’m a DJ,’” he said with a laugh. “I had a love for music though.”

Like Samuel and Eli moment, Perkins was eventually led into pastoring.

“When we’re struggling, trying to figure it out, wanting to hear His voice, He sends us a lifeline that we want. And we still turn away from it,” he said.

Perkins preached his first sermon–-on the fourth Sunday of May in 2015–at the House of Prayer. He stopped being a DJ and focused on ministry for about seven years.

He preached there as an assistant pastor until he was called into a different direction in March of 2021.

While driving to church one day, Perkins recalled hearing, ‘These are not your people.’

“I was like ‘What?’… ‘I have not designed them for your voice. There is a people, but it’s not this group.’”

So Perkins made the leap of faith, after about a year of meditating on this.

Married to his wife, Erica, and with two kids and a baby on the way at the time, it was intimidating. But Perkins said he heeded the call.

“There’s a call to pastoral ministry, but I’m called to the body. I’m called to serve the church body,” he said.

For a year, Perkins floated from church to church. “We just went around traveling.” During that time, he and his wife led a Bible study at their house.

He eventually preached regularly at New Haley Church of God. But a year and a half ago, Perkins felt the call about being at the church of his grandmother–Sevier Street.

Last year around Easter, Perkins received a phone call that Pastor Verge was retiring, so he put in his résumé.

“One can only hope to have the kind of ministry Pastor Verge had,” he said.

He heard nothing for a while and began to doubt. But last October, things began moving.

After a series of interviews, he was told he was a unanimous vote to become their new pastor.

Now at 37 years old, Perkins will serve as their lead pastor. Perkins holds a bachelor’s of science in exercise science and currently also works for a nonprofit called Tennessee Family Solutions.

His main goal for the church is to grow the youth ministry–what he calls the life blood and next generation of the church. But also he wants the multi-generational church to feel supported.

“In this season, our job is to reconcile. To bring people who once knew God back to God and back to one another.

“And to bring all these generations to the table and put the word of God in the middle of the table and say we all can eat here. We appreciate what the older generation has done and we’re only standing here because of what they’ve done. At the same time, if we don’t hear and appreciate the younger generation, everything they’ve done will go away. So we’re trying to help two generations thrive and live together.”