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Military men lead church program

Elvin Thompson (left) accepts a certificate of appreciation from Pastor Irvin Williams. (Reporter Photo / Christine Boatwright)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Shelby County Reporter

Elvin Thompson and his brother, Kelvin Thompson, led Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in its 7th annual Military Program Feb. 26.

In addition to holding an annual program, the Jemison church retains a wall holding more than 500 names of current and retired military men and women.

“We just want to stop and say thank you to the families that stay behind and keep things going while we’re deployed,” Elvin Thompson said. The brothers are graduates of Montevallo High School.

Elvin, who retired from the U.S. Army as a 1st Sergeant after 22 years of service, drove from his home in Augusta, Ga., to serve as the service’s keynote speaker.

Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church’s pastor, Irvin Williams, served in the Coast Guard for 21 years.

“Freedom is not free,” Williams said. “These men stood the line and paid the price. We just want to pause for a moment to say thank you. It’s a sacrifice to serve, but we don’t regret it.”

Williams said he doesn’t want this country’s citizens to worry about suicide bombers or explosions, and he was proud to serve the country in order to prevent that type of fear.

“When we signed up, we were told that we have to go out, but we don’t have to come back,” Williams said. “We’re just a little church on the side of the road, but we just want to say thank you.”

Elvin’s younger brother, Kelvin, served as the program’s Master of Order. Kelvin currently serves the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Ethel Atchison, the Thompsons’ mother and the church’s youth director, moved from Montevallo when she remarried.

“The least we can do is say thanks,” said Ethel Atchison, the Thompsons’ mother and the church’s youth director. “The least you can do is come to a program such as this to thank them.”