Rev. Dr. Claude Odom celebrates 30th anniversary

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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SUFFOLK, VA – The Hilton Garden Inn here was the scene for the elaborate 30th pastoral anniversary of the Dr. Claude Marion Hayes Odom, pastor of the New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church in Corapeake, and resident of Harrellsville.

The auspicious celebration began with much pomp and circumstances, befitting the occasion and the person whose long service was being so appropriately celebrated.

The Master of Ceremonies, Trustee Joe Felton, conducted the service. Rev. Pamela Jones-Watford, the former organist of 30 years, provided a musical program in commemoration of the event. Her renditions were succeeded by a praise dance by Makayla Hathaway.

The welcome address was given by Trustee Anthony Saunders.

The Reverend Dr. Linwood Morings Boone, historian of the Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association, speech on the occasion was noteworthy in which his thoughts and reminiscences of his friend were celebrated. Dr. Boone quoted Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, saith thy God”. He applied the text to Dr. Odom’s 30 years of services in its various capacities.

Dr. Boone said of Dr. Odom, “A church is known by the man it honors. Dr. Odom is a pastor for whom I have the highest regards. I have observed his ministry over my 50 years in ministry and have found him to be a person of high morals, with an impeccable character.”

Minister Mary R. Jones graced the meal. Inspirational music cascaded through the spacious room as the guests dined on a delightful meal.

Additional reflections were given by Deaconess Mary A. Baker, and New Middle Swamp Youth, respectfully.

Family reflections were delivered by Aaron Odom, son, and by the Odom grandchildren, and Dorothy Evans.

The introduction of the speaker was given by Deaconess Paula P. Holley.

The anniversary sermon was delivered by Rev. Reginald Ralph of the New Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Norfolk, VA.

First Lady Bettina P. Odom’s remarks were most reflective about her husband’s ministry. She extoled her husband’s ability for hearing from the Lord, and providing clear and well defined directions about best ministerial practices for the New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church.

Mrs. Odom thanked the Lord, and the New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church for the privilege of walking hand-in-hand with her husband as he walked hand-in-hand with her Savior.

Dr. Odom’s pastoral remarks were wholesome, and strong in biblical truths. He affirmed the fact, “Only What We Do For Christ Will Last. Therefore, Be Ye Steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, insomuch as ye know that your labor in the Lord, is not in vain.”

Rev. Randall Hathaway announced the benediction.

The anniversary committee consisted of Sherry Boone and Tomika Bond-Boone. They worked diligently to articulate Rev. Dr. Odom’s pastoral accomplishments and splendid leadership.

The afternoon was a most pleasant one socially. The large number in attendance were delighted with the hospitality of the New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church family and the successful maturity of the well laid plans of the anniversary committee.

Under Dr. Odom’s pastorate, the New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church has made the most progressive gains in her long history. The church has become numerically larger, and stronger in every way. The imposing edifice continues to be a desired place to worship.

The church has become one of the strongest and most influential church in the Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association.

In 1993, the church was weak and torn by grief arising from the retirement of its pastor, Reverend A. J. Cherry. The acceptance of Rev. Dr. Odom to its pastorate brought peace and harmony, and the congregation entered upon a time of prosperity, which has continued unto this day.

There is no man in Gates County more widely known, more highly esteemed and respected than Reverend Dr. Claude Odom, who for more than a quarter century has been an untiring laborer for the spiritual uplift of his church and community. His personal magnetism endears the stranger and the non-member as old friends. It was repeatedly expressed during the celebration, “He makes people feel real good talking to him, and you never want to stop.”

The New Middle Swamp Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1866 by the Reverend Lemuel Washington Boon and others.