(Editor’s note: Houston resident Ed Hamilton was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award during Saturday’s annual Houston Area Chamber of Commerce banquet. Here are the comments of Scott Roberts, who made the announcement).
Our recipient of the Life Service Award is not a native of Houston, and in fact he did not even know anyone in Houston when he and his wife moved here some 17 years ago, in August of 1992. Ed Hamilton had been called to be the pastor of Ozark Baptist Church.
Ed grew up in Crocker, Mo. He is a graduate of Crocker High School, Southwest Baptist University and Oklahoma Baptist University. He has been a pastor for 49 years. Prior to coming to Houston, he had been a pastor to some seven churches in Missouri and Illinois including Trinity Baptist Church, Willow Springs; First Baptist Church, Branson; First Baptist Church, Granite City, Ill.; Northside Baptist Church, Neosho. Although he has been a pastor for some 35 years, Ozark was his first rural church.
Ed and his wife LaMoine have been married for 42 years. She was a teacher in the Houston School system for 16 years prior to her retirement two years ago. They have two married sons, Doug and Phil.
Doug and his wife Tracy live in Lenexa, Kan. and have four children. Doug is employed with Quest Diagnostic as director of logistics, special processing and support services.
Phil and his wife Casandra live in St. James. They have two children. Phil is employed with MoDOT as facility operations supervisor for District nine.
Back in 1992, at that time he was wondering about God’s purpose for sending him to Houston. He found himself very lonely as he would drive to the office each morning and wondered how he was going to build a church in the country. He was used to being in the center of town where the people were, and he felt he knew no one. His wife was a newly employed teacher in the Houston School system. When she would come home at the end of her day at school she would find a very tearful husband who would say, “I just don’t know if I am going to be able to do it.” She knew God had gifted her husband with speaking abilities, she knew he was always prepared when he stood behind the pulpit to preach and she said to him,” you do the preaching and I’ll do the inviting.” She began inviting her newly found teacher friends, students and their parents, and her husband began seeing new faces at the church. He began to be encouraged.
He believed the church should be in the community, and community leaders should be in the churches. He believed that strong, vibrant, healthy churches are what make good communities. He began involving Ozark Baptist Church into the life of the community. In one of his sermons he said no one would want to live in a community that did not have a strong, loving church. The loving church purchased a new church van and placed on it the name Ozark Baptist Church with a picture of a dove symbolizing peace and love. He had godly men who took him around and introduced him to the business leaders of the community. The city of Houston began to see Ozark Baptist Church van in town everyday. Ed became a member of the Ministerial Alliance and Lions Club. He encouraged Ozark Baptist Church to become a member of the Houston Chamber of Commerce.
He became a friend to the business leaders of the community; school administrators, teachers and students; hospital staff and physicians, the highway patrol and local and county law enforcement; government and city officials; economic development and industrial workers; bankers, lawyers, farmers and ranchers. We can say he has become everyone’s friend.
He as befriended the children and youth. A Sunday school teacher had her little children around the classroom table, and they were talking about family. She had them to raise their hand if they had a sister. Then she asked them to raise their hand if they had a brother. One little girl raised her hand, the teacher said, “Alicia, do you have a brother?” She answered, “I have Brother Ed.” One little girl asked her mother if Brother Ed slept in his tie.
Brother Ed has performed some 250 weddings; he has officiated at some 400 funerals; he led the Ozark Baptist Church in three different building programs.
He is seen at the coffee shops and on the city streets visiting with everyone.
Now, in 2009, we know and understand why God brought Ed Hamilton to the Houston community.