// history

11: Rev. Omer Painter 1981 – 1985

To the Work
The Pastorate of Rev. Omer Painter 1981 – 1985
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Romans 14:19

Rev. Omer Painter

On March 11, 1981, the members of North Cleveland voted to give Bill Houston, Paul McConnell, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Oody, Mrs. Ronald (Joy) Rogers, Joe Reed and Kenneth Tarpley the responsibility of finding a new pastor for the church. Given the task they had before them, the committee members went to work quickly and diligently. These efforts met with success on July 5, when the Rev. Omer Painter, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Blountville, Tennessee, preached a trial sermon. Later in the day, the church voted in a secret ballot to call Painter, who accepted and began his duties on August 30, 1981. During Painter’s pastorate, the church was actively involved in adding to its property. In October, 1981, the church learned that land adjacent to the church was available, and the membership decided to undertake a major campaign to acquire it. OnOctober 14, the church voted to pursue a fund-raising effort to get the $46,750.00 needed to purchase the Hooper and Arnold properties, located along Jackson Street, Franklin Avenue and North Ocoee Street. The approval was given at that time with the condition the church acquire a down payment for the Hooper property, and the full cash price for the Arnold property bv November 18. As in many times before. North Cleveland answered the financial challenge and raised $2,000.00 for the thirty day option on the Hooper property during a special offering held on October 18. With this impetus, the church continued to work on paying off the property debt until October, 1984. At that time, the Bradley Baptist Association purchased a corner of the property that bordered Jackson and Franklin for $25,000.00. This acquisition allowed the Association to build a much-needed office building, and North Cleveland used the receipts of the sale to complete its final payment of the land. In addition, the church undertook several projects aimed at renovating and restoring the church facilities. In October, 1981, the front porch and steps of the Sanctuary were tiled at a cost of $2,572.00 Later the church voted to renovate the vestibule of the Sanctuary, using funds collected from the Buford Dantzler Memorial Fund, and other subsequent gifts. Other projects during this period included painting and cleaning the building and steeple, and planting trees and shrubs to make the grounds more attractive.

An Outing of the JOY Group

Another area of ministry was developed during Rev. Painter’s tenure at North Cleveland. The JOY (Just Older Youth) group was organized in March 1984, and featured a Senior Adult Choir, along with several seasonal trips and socials. The program was the result of an interest in developing a Senior Adult emphasis at the church, and JOY membership grew rapidly. On May 5, 1984, the JOY choir joined with a similar group from the First Presbyterian Church to present a musical, “The Best Times of Our Lives.” Later in the year the same group, along with the Senior Adult Choir from Stuart Park Baptist Church, present “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.”
The music program of the church also underwent some changes during this time. Upon the resignation of Gene North in 1984, Dr. F. Dean Banta assumed the responsibility of leading the congregational singing and of the adult choir. Banta was assisted in this endeavor by Mrs. Bill (Nancy) Paul, and other church members who conducted the children and youth choirs. In addition. North Clevelanders continued their efforts to serve the youth in the church by employing Tom Gibson and LaMar Ervin as part-time Youth Ministers in 1982 and from 1984-1986, respectively.

Rev. Omer and Betty Painter

While North Cleveland was involved in improving its church program and facilities, the membership continued its outreach to the community and the world. Several prog-rams emphasized an active participation in convention, state, and associational plans and preparations. In April, 1983, the church decided to participate in a simultaneous revival effort with sister Baptist Churches in the Bradley Association. A similar event also took place in April, 1986, with Rev. Doyle Suits and J. Groce Robinson providing the preaching, and Duane Connor serving as Music Evangelist. In addition, Rev. Painter encouraged the church to help with the effort of the Tennessee Baptist Convention to assist Carson-Newman College in its scholarship campaign. Church members also continued to attend the various annual meetings of the TBC and the SBC throughout the years 1981-1986.
The church was saddened in July, 1985 when Rev. Painter announced his resignation as the church’s pastor in order to become the Director of Missions for the Tennessee Valley Baptist Association. Painter had brought a somber, conscientious attitude to the church, and members will always appreciate his loving devotion to North Cleveland Baptist and to the ministry.

Rev. Doyle Suits

Soon after Rev. Painter had resigned, an interim pastor committee presented the name of Rev. Doyle Suits for consideration. Suits, a well-known Bradley County pastor, had previously served in the ministry for 42 years and was then in retirement. Committee chairman DeWayne Morrow made the motion that the church approve Suits, and the church did so unanimously. Suits assumed the pastorate quickly and served North Cleveland well during his year’s tenure. In the Cleveland Daily Banner announcement of his acceptance. Rev. Suits said, “We are very pleased to be a part of the fine fellowship that is so evident at North Cleveland. We want to encourage you to come and to worship God with us. You will find a warm welcome awaiting you.”
While Suits was interim, several members of the church began to see the need to replace some of the windows in the Sanctuary. A suggestion was soon made that the church consider installing stained glass windows. Ultimately the church did vote to undertake this project on August 27, 1986, based on a motion made by Clifford Plemmons, chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee. A special offering was received on October 17 to finance the cost of the windows, and many gifts were given in memory and honor of loved ones. The church jubilantly dedicated the stained glass windows on January 4,1987, with a sermon given by the new pastor Rev. John Fred McCluskey.

Stained Glass Windows Installation

JOY Group
JOY Group
Rev. Omer, Betty and
Scott Painter