Sur­rounded with Chris­tian love

Fam­ily’s life re­volves around Ju­lia A. PorterUMC

The Covington News - - Religion - By Colleen Capes Jack­son

Bill and Gayle Nor­ton be­came sweet­hearts at age 12. Their first date was at­tend­ing a Sun­day night ser­vice at Ju­lia A. Porter United Methodist Church. If the church doors were open, Gayle and her fam­ily were there. A love for God, fam­ily, church and the com­mu­nity has been a com­mon thread in their mar­riage.

He re­calls how God sur­rounded them with Chris­tian friends in the early years be­fore they were saved. On April 14, 1972, they ac­cepted Christ at 1:30 a.m. fol­low­ing a re­vival ser­vice at Canaan Bap­tist Church.

Na­tives of Por­terdale and mem­bers of Ju­lia A. Porter UMC, Bill and Gayle have spent a life­time giv­ing sac­ri­fi­cially to oth­ers. They rec­og­nized the need to or­ga­nize the Alms of Love, a min­istry within the church that helps peo­ple go­ing through hard­ships.

Bill of­ten says, “If you want to be blessed, you have to be a bless­ing to some­one else.”

Known as “prayer war­riors,” the cou­ple organized a Shep­herd’s Min­istry in 1993 with em­pha­sis on com­pil­ing a weekly prayer and praise list. Twelve group leaders with ap­prox­i­mately 15 fam­i­lies each serve as a chain for prayer re­quests and praise re­ports. In the event of a death, the teams pro­vide a meal for the fam­ily and sup­port them with love and prayer.

Be­cause Ju­lia A. Porter is known in New­ton County as a loving and pray­ing church, peo­ple from the com­mu­nity of­ten call in their re­quests for prayer. Cur­rently, 61 can­cer pa­tients rang­ing from 3 years to se­nior adults are prayed for on a daily ba­sis.

Names of 26 ser­vice men and women, sev­eral col­lege stu­dents, our pres­i­dent and mil­i­tary leaders, ex­pec­tant moth­ers, out­reach min­istries and those in nurs­ing home and shut-ins are re­mem­bered daily by the pas­tor and con­gre­ga­tion.

In 1984, Gayle agreed to fill in as wor­ship leader and has vol­un­teered her time as the choir di­rec­tor since 1997. In ad­di­tion, she has served as Sun­day school su­per­in­ten­dent. Bill has taught the adult Sun­day school class for more than 30 years and con­tin­ues to serve as chair­man of the board of trustees. In prior years, they di­rected the youth.

A strong sup­porter of their chil­dren’s schools and ac­tiv­i­ties, they were elected as pres­i­dents of the PTO at Por­terdale Ele­men­tary, Cousins Mid­dle School and Cle­ments Mid­dle School. Bill served on the Por­terdale City Coun­cil for 20 years and the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion for one term and served on the board of direc­tors for the New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce. To­gether, they served as chairs of the United Fund.

Bill and Gayle went into busi­ness with Doug Doster in 1975 and op­er­ated the Red and White Gro­cery in Madi­son, the Town Square Red and White in Cov­ing­ton and de­vel­oped the Turner Lake Busi­ness Park.

Later, the cou­ple opened a paint store and worked in house construction de­vel­op­ing sev­eral sub­di­vi­sions. In 1995, they opened the Cov­ing­ton Rental Cen­ter at 7101 Turner Lake Cir­cle.

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