In their day they were the dynamic duo. One was the pastor, the other the assistant. One was charismatic, the other the work horse. Both could hit a softball further than about anyone else I’ve ever met. Get them on the same team and they were unbeatable. Both had incredible talent and million-dollar smiles. They and their wives merged at the perfect time, built a multi-million-dollar building, and took Calvary Tabernacle to a different dimension. In their day, they were an unstoppable force.
There are people who just go together. Laurel and Hardy, Jordan and Pippen, and Siskel and Ebert. For me, in the early 80’s it was Jim Larson and Jim Brannon. An earlier blog recounts the impact of Pastor James Larson on my life, but the story would be incomplete without Jim Brannon. He was the secret behind the sauce. While Pastor Larson beat the tambourine and preached vision, Jim Brannon was the ultimate second man. Pastor Larson envisioned it; James Brannon made it happen.
I am not sure that Calvary Tabernacle’s current building gets built without him. He was comfortable with, and understood his role as Robin, the second man. Whatever it took for the church to succeed, he stepped up. He wasn’t scared of hard work. I saw him in mud filled holes, working on pipes, and on sky-high scaffolding. He also wasn’t afraid of making hard decisions, he often had to be the bad guy, make the tough calls, and because he was willing, things got accomplished. Ministerially, he served the Indiana Youth Department, preached when Pastor Larson was gone, and filled any void when he saw a need.
Before coming to Indy, he was an important cog in the success of the church in Stockton California pastored by Kenneth Haney. He served in many roles, working with the youth, assisting with construction, and doing whatever was necessary to see that the church succeeded. His agenda never seemed to be about titles or accolades, it was about stepping up, getting the job done, and seeing the Kingdom moving forward.
Leaving Indy in the late 80’s, he and his wife would start their own church in Livermore California. As with many areas in his life, he had to dig it out, make sacrifices, and hard choices. Those choices often brought criticism, misunderstanding, and difficulties, yet he and his wife never wavered in their commitment to the message they lived and preached. I know their work in at Christian World Church in Livermore has come with great sacrifice, heartache and pain. Yet, meet them and both of them will greet you with the biggest smiles, have you laughing uncontrollably, and one would think they had never experienced pain or had their hearts broken. Mary and I see them as giants of the faith and some of the finest Christians we have ever met.
Thank you, Jim Brannon, for doing what so many aren’t willing to do, be the second man. You set the gold standard for the role. You have led with excellence as a pastor, dad, grandpa, and businessman. I admire and appreciate you, and I am thankful for your example. You have not only been someone that I look up to, but someone I wanted to emulate. Mary and I are proud to be able to call you and Janet our friends. Your reward in heaven will be greater than you could ever imagine.