A well-known and much admired pastor will be retiring from full-time ministry at the end of the month, after having served behind the pulpit for over four decades, including the last 10 years and four months in Clinton County.
Pastor Charles Tone, who was called to preach at the age of 14, began his ministry in the Nazarene church, although he grew up a Methodist. He said his wife of 55 years, Jane, didn’t prefer his church and he didn’t prefer her (Wesleyan) church so they sort of comprised and began in the Nazarene, which he says there’s really no difference in doctrine between the Methodist and Nazarene faith.
Bro. Tone’s first church was a Church of the Nazarene in Monticello, Indiana. He preached some while a teenager before going to work full-time, but continued to fill in when needed. He later finished school and was ordained into the Nazarene church and pastored in that faith for 31 years.
When he became semi-retired and living in Columbia, Kentucky, the District Superintendent (of the United Methodist Church) called him and offered the position he has held in Clinton County for the past 10 years plus, that being pastor of Land’s Chapel and Pine Grove United Methodist Churches.
Bro. Tone followed another long-time pastor of those churches, Dennis Parrigin, who had preached in that charge, as they are referred to in the Methodist church, for some 10 years.
“I thought I’d be here a year or two,” Bro. Tone said, noting that he had been in Clinton County for some 10 years and four months as of his retirement date September 30.
Bro. Tone was born and raised in a small town just outside Cincinnati, Ohio and was one of 10 children, seven boys and three girls. Only he and his three sisters are still living. The Tones have one daughter, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Pastor Tone, who was educated at Miller’s Business College, the Nazarene Bible College and Trevecca Nazarene Bible College, noted that not only his ministry here in Clinton County was his first full-time as an actual Methodist preacher, but also his first of having two churches to lead.
Tone said he has preached in 13 different churches over the years, including the two locally, and one church had called him back as their minister three times. He has pastored in five different states, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and Illinois throughout his long career.
The pastor noted there were major differences in pastoring two churches as opposed to one at a time. “It’s a challenge,” he said, noting the extra time required to attend to the needs of two congregations, including being there for families in need, and the enormous travel involved.
However, he indicated he wouldn’t change a thing, saying he had enjoyed every aspect of his ministry. “It’s been a blessing…God’s been good to us and took care of us all these years.”
Bro. Tone’s current stint at the two Methodist churches is also his longest running. “We’ve not accomplished as much as we would have liked, but we have done a lot and had some great times.” The people of both churches and the community have been wonderful and supportive, he said.
The pastor said the simplest reason he had for retiring at this point is, “I’m getting tired,” he said, noting his age of 76. “I’m not really physically ill in any way, but I can’t pastor the way I have been used to doing. I don’t have the strength.”
As an example, both Pastor and Sister Tone have always visited people in the church, no matter how long or how far the trip, including as far away as Philadelphia, Memphis and a little bit closer hospitals in Louisville, Lexington, and Nashville, to name a few.
The retiring minister didn’t hesitate when asked what he would miss the most about being a full-time pastor–the people. “They have been like family to us…we have been away from our own real family (who live in different places) and we’re going to miss everybody,” adding both of us have shed a few tears already.
He said it has been wonderful to associate with such good people, adding that he would also especially miss the children in the churches he now pastors. “To some of the children, I’ve been the only pastor they’ve had…they either were young when we first began or have been born since we’ve been here.”
He told of one 10-year girl at one of his churches that had asked her mom where the preacher would be moving to and when she told her in Columbia near Lindsey Wilson College, the little girl asked her mom if she could go to college so she could live with the preacher and his wife.
The Tones in fact, plan to move back to Columbia at a location near the college.
Upon retirement, Pastor Tone said they would like to travel some and he would fill in for pastors time-to-time, including holding revivals, preaching funerals, and overall “keep as busy as we can doing the Lord’s work.” He also said there was a possibility he may preach a few Sundays at Land’s Chapel and Pine Grove after the end of the month until a full-time replacement is named.
Other than praising the people of his congregations and community as a whole, Bro. Tone concluded by saying his wife Jane, “has been my helpmate. Without her I couldn’t have done it.” He noted that when he was sick, she would fill in, teach the children’s sermons, lead choir singing or whatever was needed. “She has been faithful in her support all these years,” he said.
While missing the people he has been ministering to over four decades, including his decade of service in Clinton County, pastor Tone and his wife will also be missed by his congregation and the community at large.