ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Dr. Peter James Flamming, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Abilene (1966-1983) passed away March 27, 2023 at Westminster Canterbury Richmond, in Richmond Virginia. His legacy is remembered all across Abilene by those that knew him, and those that still benefit from the programs he set in place.
“I was just kind of in awe of him as a child,” said FBCA Women and Children’s pastor Becky Tucker.
Tucker recalls meeting Dr. Flamming when she first visited the church at just 12 years old. His commanding voice and gentle nature still stay with her to this day.
“His presence, but it was his voice. A deep booming kinda type voice,” Tucker explained.
Known to most as a quiet Giant who listened twice as much as he spoke, but when he did, not one ear in the room was turned away.
“I heard someone say to me the other day that when he spoke it was easy to imagine that that was the voice of God,” recalled current FBCA Senior Pastor Brandon Hudson.
Hudson has been with the church for only eight weeks, though he said the works of Dr. Flamming still echos in the sanctuary and out into the streets of Abilene 40 years after he stepped out from behind the pulpit.
“And I think that passion for getting beyond our own walls resonant, though they may be is really a deep impact left by him,” Hudson said.
As a senior pastor in 1966, Dr. Flamming had a hand in establishing the Family Life Center, God’s Little Ones (GLO) children’s outreach program, and the church’s ministry of Counseling and Enrichment. All programs sought to bring the church out of the pews and into the city to do good works as they say the bible commands.
“And that was one of the things that really struck me is that this is a church that understands we do what we do because God loves the world, not because God’s love stops with us,” Hudson expressed.
As a pastor remembered for his voice in leadership, counseling and charity, his absence is one felt deeply by those that followed his teaching.
“We knew that his health had been failing, so you knew that it was probably coming but there’s still a sadness,” Tucker expressed.
A silence left as his voice begins to fade, but in its place, a call to action. In his sermon entitled ‘In the Meantime,’ church member Carlene Spicer recalled that Flamming spoke from Jeremiah 29. When the Israelites, lost in a foreign land, looked to God for guidance on how to live their lives.
“That Jeremiah passage is so powerful because it is about, take root wherever you are so that God can use you. And I think that is one of the things Flamming did here,” Hudson said.
So those lost in the foreign land of grief, seeking direction and leadership, can look to the words Flamming emphasized so often.
“So we know that like, I can also be like that, I can also speak words of love and wisdom into the world in the way that I remember someone who’s important to me,” said Hudson.
Knowing that any voice, booming or soft, is able to echo beyond our years and inspire others to do the same.
“I think it’s just a way that he sent us out to know that we are blessed,” Tucker added.
Dr. Flamming’s visitation will be held Friday, March 31 (2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) in the sanctuary of the Richmond First Baptist Church. The service will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 1. The church will be live-streaming the service on its website for those unable to attend.