Jerry Vittatoe to step down at Clear Springs; earns divinity degree

Jake MabeHalls


Jerry Vittatoe planned on preaching from Colossians 3:15 on Sunday (May 28). “Don’t Let Peace Pass You By.”

But Jesus passed through, not by, and so did peace, too.

On and on and on came the music, the good ol’ Southern Gospel, just like an All Night Sing with the Blackwood Brothers quartets of yesteryear. But this, my friends, was the real thing.

Mike Tipton, one of the strongest voices around, trained by the late Jerry Reeves at Gibbs High School, sang until David Jones had to relieve him.

It was that kind of “old-fashioned, soul-savin’, Holy Ghost revival,” except this is just another Sunday at The Spring.

Oh my!

Bill Gaither’s “He Touched Me.” Rusty Goodman’s “Had It Not Been.”

And, right on cue, coming down to the valley through the Great Smoky Mountains in Bryson City, North Carolina, the Inspirations’ “Thank You Lord.”

Thank you, indeed.

Vittatoe, Pastor Jerry to his friends and flock and family, is stepping down after a nearly 30-year tenure.

Now, you can call him Dr. Jerry. He’s just earned a Doctorate of Ministry in pastoral leadership from Andersonville Baptist Seminary. Says he’s doing OK, and is giving the search committee a year to find a pastor.

Clear Springs left the old sanctuary on Thompson School Road last spring. Now, they’re at Harbison’s Crossroads in beautiful downtown Gibbs.

Damon Patterson, dead ringer for Cesar Romero, looked distinguished as ever. There was Dale Rutherford, and Danny and Brenda Gaylor, and Judson Palmer, *and* a few Daltons (Joy Yarnell and Patsy Beeler, the late Rev. Shields Dalton’s daughters). So many more. Long-time members, short-time ones, some that joined during the singing.

What a time!

Somebody started talking about John Chapter 11, about Lazarus dying, about sister Mary sitting, wondering, waiting. (As usual, Jesus showed up right on time, even if he was four days late.)

One of these days, time won’t matter anymore.

An era is coming to a close, though. Between Vittatoe and the late Shields Dalton, that’s almost 60 years.

But, not to fret. Don’t let peace pass you by?

If Sunday was any indication, nobody should worry, Jerry. It didn’t. It won’t.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Ya didn’t even have to preach.

The Message was in the music.

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