Tennessee ties link Buckner to new shoe partner
By Scott Collins
Buckner News Service
DALLAS–Lon Shoopman thought shoes would be a great way to tie First Baptist Church of Madisonville, Tenn., with Buckner Baptist Benevolences in Dallas.
After visiting the Texas-based ministry in March, he returned to Tennessee and presented the idea of collecting 1,750 pairs of shoes for the Shoes for Orphan Souls campaign sponsored by Buckner Orphan Care International.
The goal was significant because First Baptist Church is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.
|Greg Moses (left) stacks a box of shoes donated to Buckner Orphan Care International in Dallas. At right is Allan Webb. Both men are members of First Baptist Church of Madisonville, Tenn., which collected the shoes as part of the church's 175th anniversary. The church has a unique link to the Buckner family.|
The project itself was significant because both the church and Buckner Benevolences trace their origins to the same family.
But Shoopman didn't tell his congregation and the Madisonville community to stop at the historic number. Instead, more than 6,000 pairs of shoes were donated and delivered by church members to Buckner May 5.
“We feel like this is our offering to celebrate the anniversary,” said Greg Moses, who, along with three other church members, drove a truck loaded with the shoes more than 900 miles from Madisonville to Dallas.
“You can tell both were started by a Buckner,” added church member Allan Webb.
Daniel Boone Buckner founded the church in Madisonville in 1828. More than 50 years later, in 1879, his son, R.C. Buckner, started Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas. Next year, Buckner Benevolences will celebrate its 125th anniversary, and the church in Madisonville will be asked to participate.
“Daniel Buckner instilled two great things in his family and in the church that he founded–a concern for missions and a concern for people, particularly children,” said Shoopman, who has been pastor of the church 28 years.
During his trip to Dallas this spring, Shoopman visited the two-story log cabin at Buckner Children's Home. The cabin, the birthplace of R.C. Buckner, was built by Daniel Buckner in Madisonville and moved to Dallas as a historic landmark in 1912.
“To come and see this cabin is like going to Jerusalem,” Shoopman said. “This is where the legacy started. For me to stand where I know Daniel Buckner stood and espoused his concerns (for missions and children) to his children and to the church, that's just an amazing experience, a holy experience.”
Shoopman and members of his church say they are amazed at the similarity of First Baptist and Buckner Benevolences.
“We're a real missions-oriented, purpose-driven church,” said Brian Sizemore. Those characteristics also define Buckner, he added.
Robert Koch noted that the connection between the church and Buckner shows in the common goals of missions and ministry to orphans. During the shoe collection in Madisonville, members charted their progress by placing cutout footprints on the wall for every 100 shoes donated. So many shoes came in that the footprints “went all over the wall,” Koch said. “We ran out of room.”
Buckner President Ken Hall said reconnecting the church and Buckner Benevolences has been a “blessing for me personally and for our Buckner family in Texas. … It's been like finding a long-lost family member.”
Shoopman, however, had learned this spring just how deep the connection between the church and Buckner remains.
“When we celebrated our 175th anniversary March 4, I thought it would be neat during the service to have somebody read a passage about Daniel Buckner. I chose this fellow who has a really nice voice. He and his wife had been in the church six months or so,” the pastor explained.
“So he read this, but he started crying during the reading. I found out after the service that this couple had adopted a daughter from Buckner, and she is now a missionary in Nicaragua. He had no idea our church had any connection with Buckner in Texas, but he knew Buckner had provided him with a daughter.”