The Word Has It
Ken Floyd, MARBC State Representative
May’s Word: “Remember”
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” –Hebrews 13:7
May is a month usually identified by the beauty of spring and the observing of two special holidays – Mother’s Day and Memorial Day 1 had been prayerfully considering which of these topics would be the subject of this month’s column when God made it very apparent what it should be. For several months, the MARBC family had been joining many others in praying for Alf and Fran Nelson. Alf, a longtime pastor and former MARBC State Representative, had been battling cancer the past few months. God called Alf from his earthly home in Ovid, Michigan, to join Him in His heavenly home on Good Friday, April 6.
A memorial service for Canadian friends and family was held on Monday, April 9, at the Westside Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario. Interment is at White Chapel Memorial Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario. A stateside friends and family memorial service was held on Tuesday, April 10, at the First Baptist Church in St. Johns, Michigan. A special band consisting of Alf’s children, grandchildren, and other family members accompanied the congregational singing. It was noted that “French horn” tended to run in the Nelson family. The song service was led by the Nelson’s son Dan and special music was provided by the Nelson’s grandchildren. Pastor Ron Sischo of First Baptist, St. Johns, shared the scripture reading and prayer. Special music was presented by Mr. John Shear of Alaska Baptist Church. Tributes were shared by the Nelson’s pastor, Tim Knaus; son Ron Nelson; friend and former MARBC State Representative John Wood, and MARBC State Representative Ken Floyd. The service was concluded with the singing of “Lengthen the Cords and Strengthen the Stakes,” a special song based upon Isaiah 54:2 and written by John W Peterson (who also recently went to be with the Lord) for the 1965 GARBC National Conference held in Grand Rapids. Alf led the congregational singing for that conference. A pictorial power-point review of Alf’s life that was shared at his memorial service can be viewed at marbc.net (NOTE: the slide show can be seen at the end of this article).
Alfred Edric Nelson was born on July 6, 1920, in Toronto, Ontario. He served for five years in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, and following the war he played solo euphonium with the Toronto Symphony Band. In 1951 he completed pastoral studies at London Bible Institute, London, Ontario, and on August 25 of that year he married a very special young lady – Frances Dorene Bush. The Nelsons have six children, twenty grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
Alf and Fran would spend their 56 years of marriage serving together in pastoral ministry in the State of Michigan: First Baptist Church in Rochester as pastor of youth and music; and as the senior pastor of Alaska Baptist Church, Alaska; Kingsley Baptist Church, Kingsley; and Parr Memorial Baptist Church, Petoskey After thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, Alf faithfully served the churches of the MARBC as State Representative for eight years. Following his retirement as State Rep in October 1990, Alf served on the staff of the First Baptist Church of St. Johns, where he and Fran have been members. Throughout his ministry, Alf emphasized the centrality of preaching and was noted for his rich wit and sense of humor.
In our MARBC office is a picture frame containing four pictures. I gaze at it daily as I begin my responsibilities. The four pictures are of the four previous State Representatives who have served the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches: Howard Keithley, John Wood, Alf Nelson, and Maynard Belt. I have to look at the fifth state representative in the mirror each and every morning, so I have chosen not to include his picture with theirs!
Ours is a great and rich heritage as a state fellowship of churches. Every State Rep and wife has brought their own unique giftedness and personality to this position. Alf and Fran Nelson are no exception. The Nelsons have served well and continue to be an example and influence to others.
During the past few months of Alf’s declining health, I have taken advantage of leafing through the archives of the MARBC in our office to read several issues of the Baptist Testimony from the time of Alf’s ministry as State Representative. He concludes his last column, written in October 1990, with this paragraph: “I said this was my swan song. That being so, it’s time I added my cygneture! I commend you to God with these words: Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in your will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6) God bless you all.”
Alf’s second column as state rep, written in August 1983, begins with this paragraph: “Moving day! Whoever said a preacher ought to be ready to pray, preach, or die at any moment ought to have added “and ready to move” ‘ Well, the ultimate moving day has arrived for our friend and faithful servant. We rejoice in his heavenly citizenship and ask that you continue to pray for our dear Fran and her family. Those wishing to share with Fran may do so at this address: 8765 Crestline Dr., Ovid, MI 48866, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every faithful servant of God should serve with the desire that their life’s testimony would be pleasing to God. Nehemiahs desire, declared in his prayer recorded in Nehemiah 5:19, is a fitting one for all of Gods servants to pursue: “Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that 1 have done for this people.” Alf Nelson is another one of Gods special servants who will be remembered for the good he has done for the people of God. He certainly has been remembered by his Savior and has no doubt heard him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant … Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21). May we take time this month to thank God for Alfs good example. Remember, God honors faithfulness and is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). You have His Word on it!