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Ministry Has No Age Limit for Widowed Pastor

Pastor Alta Vaughn may be a woman, a widow, and well into her 80s, but that doesn't keep her from God's work!

If statistics show that 65 or younger is the age most people retire, then someone forgot to send Pastor Alta Vaughn of First Assembly of God in Meadowbrook, Illinois, that memo! Vaughn, who turns 85 this year, has no intentions of retiring from her pastorate and has seen God systematically growing her modest, small-town church.

Vaughn and her late husband, James, founded and co-pastored First Assembly of God in 1973. In 1995, James passed away, and Alta, as a licensed and ordained AG minister, continued pastoring the small congregation.

But despite the size of the church, Vaughn has always been passionate about reaching children for Christ. The church has six buses it uses in the course of its ministry. “We typically use four buses on Sunday mornings to pick up kids,” she explains. “We also pick up individuals in wheelchairs with a specially equipped bus each week.”

Vaughn, who downplays her decades of ministry as “not doing anything more than any other pastor,” may be right . . . , but then again, how many pastors — even much younger pastors — take teams out every week, making sure to visit every home in their community at least once a year? Not to mention Vaughn was bivocational — working fulltime at the electric company as a corporate executive secretary until she was 76!

“You’re never too old to work for God,” Vaughn says. “People may say it’s time to stop working, but God never does.”

Quick to deflect any praise, Vaughn credits successes to committed church members, other leaders, and points out that the bus drivers are also real heroes for the church as it takes a special type of person to drive a church bus full of active children every week. “It’s a lot of work, but they love it,” she says, readily agreeing, with a laugh, that God must have a special place in heaven for them.

WIth only about 900 homes in Meadowbrook, the church’s annual home visits and large kids crusade they host each summer makes a memorable impact on people. As a result, Vaughn has become well known throughout her community and neighboring Bethalto.

“I just walk to a home, introduce myself, give them a tract, offer to pray with them, and invite them to church,” Vaughn says matter-of-factly. “I let them know that we have a bus that comes by every Sunday morning and we would be happy to pick them up or anyone who would want to come, so they have no reason not to come.”

However, Vaughn can’t resist sharing a humorous story. While out knocking on doors, two children that attend the church wanted her to help them invite some other children to church, but the other children lived with their grandpa a few doors down during the weekday and somewhere else on the weekend. Vaughn agreed to help.

“When I knocked on the door, it was answered by a young man — maybe 25 or 30 years old . . . he was the ‘grandpa’ the children were talking about,” laughs Vaughn, who shared the children’s request with the young man. “But I got to thinking, if the kids think this young man is a grandparent, how old do they think I am!

Over the last few years, First Assembly of God in Meadowbrook has seen steady growth, moving from an average of 83 to 88 to 93 and breaking the 100 barrier just a week ago. “The Lord has blessed us and given us favor,” Vaughn says. “Through years of faithful service, we’re just reaping the harvest — that’s what we’re doing right now.”

At the Illinois District Council meeting in May 2015, Vaughn’s decades of selfless ministry, including knocking on multiplied thousands of doors through the years, was recognized by the district as she was presented with the district’s annual “Unsung Hero” award.

“The unsung hero award is given to a pastor who is doing a work in areas that don’t often gain recognition,” explains Illinois District Superintendent Phillip B. Schneider. “Alta is a super-sharp lady, and the church follows her lead. Her longtime ministry to others, including those with mental and emotional challenges, her door-to-door ministry to pray with and invite people to church, and the way her church is an active part of their community deserves recognition.

“I just like people,” Vaughn says, “and God has blessed us with a lot of good people!”

Pictured: First Assembly of God (Meadowbrook, Ill.) volunteer bus drivers

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.