By Allen Palmeri
GALT—Gene Schreffler decided to give his wife of 47 years, Ann, an extra special wedding ceremony July 31 at Galt Baptist Church to show his ongoing love and commitment to her.
The bride wore hot pink and lime green. The groom wore a white tuxedo jacket and black pants. He gave her 10 dozen pink and red roses with a white rose in the center to represent her purity and beauty. He went to great lengths to build her a cedar flower stand, a table for the unity candle, and even a garden bench to sit on when she got tired during the ceremony.
She pretty much became the queen of Galt.
“She is the love of my life,” Schreffler said.
Schreffler, 65, is a Princeton native who is the 22-year bi-vocational pastor of Galt Baptist. Ann, 62, has stood by his side and helped him succeed in the town of some 260 people located 13 miles east of Trenton in Grundy County. The Galts minister as a team to 30-50 people in church, and Gene also enjoys touching lives as a custodian in the Grundy R-V School which averages about 80 students a year. Before that they ministered faithfully for 10 years at Freedom Baptist Church.
“He’s one of those unsung heroes in Missouri Baptist life,” said Mike Dennis, who officiated at the July 31 ceremony. “Nobody ever hears about him, and it doesn’t make any difference to him.”
Schreffler was asked what he thought about those comments by Dennis, who served nearly 14 years on staff with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and now is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Sunrise Beach.
“It kind of makes me cry,” he said. “That makes me look good, and I’m only what God can be.”
Dennis said Schreffler “has has a tremendous influence on kids in that community” and is living out a love for Ann that is “total and complete. He would consider Ann his favorite cowgirl.”
The last day of July was when they kicked up their heels on the dance floor and enjoyed a huge feast at the Galt Lions Hall before Gene swept his bride away to the Stoney Creek Inn in St. Joseph.
“For us to go to St. Joe is like some people going to Hawaii,” he said.
Putting the special ceremony together in 2010 was important to him in light of their actual wedding in 1962, when he was 17 and she was 15 and pregnant. This time he spread the news all over Galt, and “almost everybody that I’ve said anything to has been thrilled to death.”
Both he and Ann have spent their whole lives in the region, with his salvation coming in March of 1974 at the old Harris Baptist Church. He was rough around the edges and could only read at a fourth grade level, but God used Ann and some good mentors to boost his reading and mold him into a pastor. He offered a glimpse into his life as a bi-vocational pastor by telling Dennis how he used to work on sermons at Freedom Baptist.
“Putting a sermon together was very hard for me but easy for God,” Schreffler said. “When you didn’t grow up in church and was as unlearned as I was, a sermon was hard to come by. I usually had a paper and a pencil around. I would listen on the radio while working on the tractor and then jot down ideas. But those times where I did not have paper and pencil near, I would have to make do with what was available.
“One time I was on the tractor and God placed an idea in my mind and on my heart. All I had close was a feed sack and a .22 caliber bullet. Not the best, but I got down enough to remember. Several times I would use feed sacks since they were usually handy. At other times I would write on my hand or arm. Sometimes my notes were more pictures than words.”
Dennis, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 7 with his wife, Maryetta, said Schreffler’s 32 years of service in only two pulpits is remarkable.
“He is one of my favorite pastors,” Dennis said.