JOPLIN, Mo. —
In this day of mega churches and evangelists preaching the word of God over airwaves throughout the world, J.R. Burr begs to differ. Last month, Burr, 78, marked his 50th anniversary as minister of Stark City Church of Christ.
Being minister of the country church, which is located in a small community nestled between Neosho and Monett and has about two-dozen members, is just fine with him and his wife of 57 years, Joy.
Burr is no stranger to rural communities such as Stark City. He was been born just 18 miles down the road from the village and has only left the area for a stint in the Navy.
Religious training not required
He was discharged from the military one day before his 21st birthday and despite no formal religious training, Burr said he decided that he would do a few things for the Lord rather than against him.
"I did not have any education, but I lived the Bible and educated myself," he said. "I am just a Bible-educated country minister. All the education I got came from the good book."
Although Burr's parents did have some influence on him, he admitted that the biggest influence on his decision to take the pulpit came from another country preacher not unlike himself.
The influential minister was like many others from that day Ñ he went from church to church and was known as a circuit preacher.
"He got to be old so he couldn't preach much anymore, and he had to hold onto the pulpit to deliver his messages," said Burr, who prefers only the title of minister rather than reverend or pastor. "He was around where I went to church and (was) the one who convinced me that I could preach."