Pastor Earl Philipp was ordained into the ministry 55 years ago on July 4 in Olney, Texas. Philipp is retired now, but he is still a member of the congregation at Christ Lutheran Church in Mustang.
Christ Lutheran Church is limited to online-only services, so the congregation came to the man affectionately known as “Pastor Earl” in the form of a reverse parade. Philipp’s fellow churchgoers hit the road to honor their friend.
"I love to hear that throaty laugh that he has because I know that all is right with the world when I hear that," Christ Lutheran Church member Alane Jordan said.
Whether it was through laughter or reading scripture, Philipp has impacted people's lives for more than five decades.
"This is something beyond my wildest imagination," Philipp said.
"It's just kind of a testament to how beloved ‘Pastor Earl’ is to us," Jordan said.
Philipp said he would have been happy with one car passing through. Nineteen cars came by to wish him a Happy Anniversary.
Philipp ministered in churches from Texas to Missouri and several places in between.
"You never stop to think, ‘What's my life going to be like five years down the road, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road?’” Philipp said. “You just continue to live your life with God's help to the best of your ability. You find yourself 55 years later."
Philipp said if he didn't hear his calling from God, he would have become a petroleum engineer. There are several congregations that are glad he heeded that call.