BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Gerald Romine preached his first sermon while in high school. Later, as a student at Freed-Hardeman University
in Henderson, Tenn., he preached most Sundays for area Churches of Christ.
In November, he will mark 57 years preaching the Gospel for the Roanoke Church of Christ, about 110 miles southeast of Birmingham.
“They called and said they wanted me to preach until they found someone, so I guess they’re still looking,” Romine said, chuckling.
As a young man, Romine had other plans. After receiving an associate’s degree from Freed-Hardeman (then a two-year college), he transferred to Auburn University
, intending to study chemical or electrical engineering.
At age 20, he was asked to serve a church in Lafayette, Ala., until they could find a new preacher. He moved to Lafayette, and then Roanoke called, asking him to fill in as well.
“I spent one quarter at Auburn, and then that was that,” Romine said. “I preached at both churches for a while, but then Lafayette got someone to work with them. I never looked back.”
Romine grew up on a farm and for many years built residential and commercial structures. As a result, “I developed some good friends and made a number of contacts,” he said.
He and his wife, Louise, raised four children in Roanoke, where he shares the Gospel during a weekly program on a local radio station.
The secret to longevity as a preacher, in Romine’s experience, is to simply treat others the way you want to be treated.
“Someone asked Gus Nichols how he was able to stay at his church in Jasper, Ala., for more than 40 years,” Romine said. “He told them, ‘Well, I’ve been married to my wife for 43 years, and we’re still together, and she loves me, and I love her’ … so it’s a matter of mutual love and respect.
“You also have to realize that personalities are different, and you need to deal with them,” he added. “You don’t get worked up because someone has a different opinion. Follow the Bible, and treat people right. Even when we had problems as a church, we got through them.”
Sam Carpenter, a member of the Roanoke church since 1967, said Romine has traveled with him on mission trips to Cambodia, Grenada and the Ukraine.
“He’s not one to sit idle,” Carpenter said. “Also, he stands with the truth, and that has kept him here with us. He’s a very good Bible scholar.”
Through the years, Romine has noticed what he characterizes as a growing lack of Bible knowledge among Christians, particularly among younger generations.
“I’m afraid people are following the Bible less and less,” he said. “People used to know what the Bible said about things and knew what to do. Now, while people know how to push buttons on their phones, when it comes to what the Bible says about something, they don’t have a clue.
“In the book of Hosea, it says, ‘My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,’ and if we don’t study, learn and apply the word, we die.”