Muskogee pastor John Derr finds ministry in the most interesting places.
“For two days, we’ve eaten lunch out,” Derr said recently. “And on both days — the waitress yesterday and the waiter today — the last things they said to us was ‘Have a blessed day.’”
That’s ministry, he said.
“It’s just being an encourager and speaking blessings on people,” he said. “That’s what I love. I don’t really care about the big structures of the church. I’m just people-oriented.”
Derr, 78, has been people-oriented ever since he grew up in the northeast Texas town of Quitman — home of Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek.
“We were next-door neighbors,” Derr said, adding that he was about 12 to 15 years older than Spacek. “We went to church together. Her mother and daddy were great, great people. Eddie Spacek and my dad were two prominent leaders in the church and the community. We were pretty close.”
Derr said he grew up in the automobile business.
“Dad owned a garage and I was a master mechanic when I was 12 years old,” he said. “Everyone thought I would follow in his footsteps.”
However, Derr also grew up in a family of Methodist ministers.
“My two sisters married Methodist ministers. My mother’s brother was a Methodist minister,” he said.
He said he “surrendered into the ministry” in 1954, when he was 18.
Over the next 60 years, Derr served churches in Texas and Oklahoma. He had a television ministry at three of those churches — Copan, Epworth in Chickasha and Trinity in Muskogee.
He also has taken and led tours of the Holy Land.
Derr now has three children involved in ministry. So is his wife, Janet. A grandson is studying at Bethel Seminary in California.
Meet John Derr
HOMETOWN: Quitman, Texas.
CAREER: Pastor, Believers Christian Fellowship.
EDUCATION: Lon Morrison College, Jacksonville, Texas; Bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University. Seminary work through Candler School of Theology and Perkins School of Theology.
FAMILY: Wife, Janet, is an ordained minister.
CHURCH: Believers Christian Fellowship.
HOBBIES: “I don’t have any hobbies as such. I like being with people. I love to be with people. I used to hunt and fish.”