Hillard and Charlotte Matthews, from Florence, Alabama, were selected to receive the Spirit of the Shoals Award. The award is a nondenominational recognition of local clergy or laity, given periodically as worthy candidates emerge. Recipients are selected by a group of Christians from the Shoals.
Text below is taken from Jim Bevis' remarks during the presentation at Grace House, May 2017
I appreciate Grace House giving me the platform tonight and allowing me the opportunity to present a very special award to a very special couple. This award is presented in the spirit of Romans 13:7 which says “give honor to whom honor is due.” I believe we honor and glorify the Lord when we recognize what He has done through his followers.
For over ten years, on an occasional basis, CSR Ministries has presented the Spirit of the Shoals award to individuals and couples who have demonstrated the person of Jesus Christ in their circles of influence, marriage, family, marketplace and ministry. This award was created to recognize the “unsung heroes and heroines of the faith” in the Shoals, who may not make the headlines but who are well pleasing to the Father not only for their talk but for their walk. Among the recipients in previous years were Jane Blair, Howard Speegle, Lucille Prince, Alfred McCroskey, and Paul Slatton. It may be that you do not recognize any or all of these names but that’s the point. The Lord has in His family, tens of thousands of faithful believers who rarely if every experience the spotlight shining upon them but they continue to emit the fragrance of Jesus wherever they go letting His light shine through them.
Following my presentation, Mayor Steve Holt of Florence, a brother in the Lord, will come with a commendation and lead a closing prayer for this couple. (By the way, this couple does not know that they are receiving this recognition tonight).
Personally, this is one of first couples we met upon returning to the Shoals in 1991 after thirty years away from Florence. They were among those who prayed for us even while we were still in Nashville, asking God to bring us back to the Shoals to be apart of the renewal and revival He wanted to bring to the Shoals. We have been good friends with this couple for twenty-six years. They have been among our most faithful supporters as we have sought to do our part in advancing the Kingdom of God in this region.
The man on the team is known throughout the city and county as a Christian businessman who practices the principles of Christ in every arena of his life. He is a man of impeccable character and is widely known for his wisdom and his integrity. He has many “irons in the fire” and is a skillful negotiator but it is always seasoned with grace, honesty and humility. He has served on many boards and committee in this city and county and has always left a good taste by his service and the presence of Jesus he brings. He is a faithful disciple of Jesus, ever learning and ever seeking after more of the Lord. He and his wife are a load bearing brother and sister in this fellowship.
The woman on this team is an extraordinary pursuer of God. She is intense in her devotion, bold in her witness and diligent in her walk with and for Christ. This godly woman is what I call, for lack of a better description,“ a world class intercessor and prayer warrior.” It has been my privilege to pray with intercessors and prayer warriors across the nation and world, and this sister is a General of intercession. The prayer meetings she leads here and elsewhere are “high octane” and prayer participants know to “fasten their seatbelts.” She is among those in our midst who pray earnestly and get results. She is a strong woman of faith, a Deborah, who wants to see her sisters set free to pursue their callings and release their giftings.
Together, this husband and wife team, are a mighty strike force for Jesus Christ. They are good citizens who seek the welfare of the city. They are godly parents and grandparents who have been a godly influence on their children and their grandchildren. They are involved in several circles of Christian leadership in this church and throughout the Shoals.
The New Living Translation of the Bible translates Romans 13:7 “... and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due.” That’s exactly what we are doing tonight, giving honor to two of God’s saints knowing that when we honor them we honor the Lord.
Therefore, Anne and I, representing CSR Ministries and its Board of Directors, bestow upon Hillard and Charlotte Matthews, the 2017 Spirit of the Shoals Award. Hillard and Charlotte, if you would please come forward for the presentation... [Mayor Holt’s statement and prayer]