Here is what was written about him:
"Our pastor (Greg Goza) lives his life daily as a servant, not only to his church, but to everyone he comes in contact with. He takes the word of God to the prisoners in our county jail twice a week, visits with the elderly in the care home in the afternoons, makes regular trips to Mexico to help and encourage our missionaries near the border (even helps with their VBS in the hottest part of July for an entire week!). He has helped ex-offenders get on their feet, provided room in his own home for a homeless mom and her daughter (for over a year!), and even took a quadriplegic man who hadn't been outside his hospital room in over 15 years for a ride in his old pickup just to see the farm and the home he grew up in (in spite of the nurses who weren't a bit happy about it) just to provide a small moment of joy in that man's life.
Greg lives for God's "Divine Appointments", always watching to see where the Holy Spirit will work next. The greatest thing about my pastor is that he is always the same man at church that he is at home - he's the "real deal"... I know this because my pastor is also my husband. Greg Goza lives to serve God every second of every day... until he takes his very last breath!!"
Reverend Bracken has been the pastor at Faith Community for seven years. The winning nomination narrative reads:
My pastor demonstrates a servant heart by giving of himself unconditionally. Pastor Tom not only serves our church in the capacity as Senior Pastor, counseling, Bible studies, the worship team, he is always looking for ways to grow others in their faith. He is a servant at a local shelter with others in our church. Also serves in many other local ministries to grow the Body of Christ.
Tom and his wife have been in ministry for over 25 years, although have been serving our congregation the last 7 years. He and wife Sissy have been youth group ministers through the years. They are truly the greatest examples of Christ no matter where they go. Whether on vacation, at their full time jobs, or in their homes they proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ so that others see God's love. When they are going through their own personal trials, they praise God through it all.
Recently their oldest son was killed by a drunk driver, Tom's father passed into the kingdom and his wife's mother passed into the kingdom all relatively close together. Showing forgiveness to the man who killed their son, they witnessed their faith to all of us and within their own family. These two people are so amazing and humble we have learned God IS the source of our strength. We have all learned to serve God no matter how hard we may think things are. We are so thankful for everything they do to serve our awesome Lord and the witness they have been to our small congregation.
Whenever there is an opportunity for Tom to serve his Lord and Savior Tom will go and tell them about the love of the Lord. So many times he has been a blessing this retreat will bless him greatly. Tom is truly a faithful follower and fisherman for Jesus Christ. Whom shall I send-send me is his reply. We are proud to serve along side of them both.
Faith Community Christian Church website
Pastor Rutledge had been pastor of the First Church of God for 14 years. Below is the text of the nomination that was submitted about him:
Pastor Paul Rutledge is an amazing and loving man. He went to college to be a history teacher, that education has served him well he is one of the best "bible teachers" I have ever heard. He is involved in EVERY aspect of the Church life yet he remains humble and is never demanding.
Our small country church cannot pay him near what he is worth or close to that of some of his peers. He preaches 2 services on Sunday, teaches Sunday School, teaches Bible study twice a week, teaches at Wednesday night "Kids for Christ"(KFC), drives the bus for KFC and for youth group outings, is a youth group leader, member of and teacher for the Men's group, is an essential member of our "Overtime" team (Overtime is for High School kids after home football games), does several visits every week to nursing homes hospitals and shut-ins. Always putting everyone else's needs first and his own last. He does all of these things out of genuine love and caring and in the spirit of Christ.
Two years ago a congregation member committed suicide. Paul was in WI at a Pastor's retreat. He never hesitated, he was on the first plane back to deal with the devastation. It was a horrible time, very difficult for everyone. I do not think the Church would have survived without Paul as the catalyst to see us through. Just last week a house in town caught fire and even though the owners did not go to our Church Paul was there, during the fire comforting one of the owners until her husband arrived. Even with all of these commitments Paul remains a loving and dedicated Husband and Father to two young men, a more devoted family man you will not find. Besides all of these things he is FUN, fun to be around and to talk with.
I could never do justice to him in this short essay. Please consider Pastor Paul for this award.
Reverend Donald R. Ruth is lead pastor at Saint John Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was nominated by Edna Cosey who submitted these comments about Pastor Ruth:
Our pastor is a humble-spirit kingdom builder. He reaches out to all races, ages, and socio-economic groups. His love for God is seen through the people he serves, especially children, youth and seniors. Salvation for this world and pleasing God are his number one priorities. He teaches by example; in giving, service, compassion, and his treatment of others. He labors in the Word and is forever interceding for others. The children just flock to him. He does not have enough arms for all of the children. Although a fulltime pastor, he manages to get involved in every aspect of the church, from serving food to cleaning the facility. Nothing is too menial for him. He has a passion for serving all people and does so with humility. He is about meeting needs, regardless of the cost.
His service extends beyond the church to other communities, local and international. He ministers quarterly at the prison, visits prisoners, has done revivals and missionary work in Trinidad, reaches out to Zimbabwe with prayers and finances, and has adopted three children abroad (Brazil, Indonesia, and Senegal) that we supply with material and financial support. He directs and teaches in a St. John Bible Institute, that he founded 7 years ago. Three years ago, he started an educational/recreational summer camp for kids ages 5-12.
The camp includes year-round tutorial and mentoring services for youth of the church and community. His goal is to reach out to youth with activities to enhance their lives that would deter them from becoming a part of the judicial system through crime/or unplanned pregnancies. He opened the church to 200 Katrina victims and volunteered his labor in the shelter operations. This awesome man of God is the very essence of love and untiringly gives so much to so many.
Pastor Walter Colace of Christ Community Church
in El Centro, California.
Pastor Colace was nominated by Angel Dyson who wrote the following:
"Pastor Walt - first and foremost is a man who lives and dwells on Scripture and is a true man of prayer. He prays consistently for the congregation, he worries for his testimony to the congregation and our community, he is accountable and trustworthy. He preaches fulltime, is attending Seminary (125 miles away) weekly, he is a pastor of discipline and discipleship. He takes the good and blessings along with the tough and trying. THROUGH PRAYER!
I am grateful for his leadership, dedication to his wife, his children, our church family and the desire to see our community stand for Christ. He founded New Creations, a Christian life school; some might call a rehab center 15 years ago. However, we teach people to live by the word of God and through Christlike behavior. Our church, Christ Community Church, is a byproduct of the New Creations - the church is just 10 years old. We are growing and growing, sending out missionaries from within the congregation and I see it as a healthy place to worship, grow in the Lord and follow an example of encouragement to trust in the Lord. The Lost must hear the word from somewhere - if not from us... who?"
Pastor Kenneth Ray Hammond of Union Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina.
Pastor Hammond was nominated by Eloise Edwards who described her Pastor this way:
"Our pastor shows a Servant Heart when he goes out into the community to try to reach the "unreachable." He is very committed to our young people and especially our young men. He is working to resolve the gang culture that is in our community. He has helped young men to get out of this community because of the gang situation so that they can see a better way and he goes into his own pockets to help finance these young people. I see Jesus Christ in our pastor when I see him cry over the loss of a young person who has been killed by gang violence; when he stops and spends time with the senior citizens of our congregation; when he goes on mission trips to other countries to impart the word of God; when he rolls up his sleeves on a Habitat for Humanity cause; when the little children of our church run up to him for a hug or a handshake; when he treats his staff as though he is the "sheep rather than the shepherd." I see Jesus Christ in our pastor through his every day walk. He is a good shepherd and our congregation share in this assessment."