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Stronger Family

Lori, Jonathan, Pete and SarahPastor’s family grows stronger despite seemingly bleak problems

Columbia, TN–The story had all the ingredients for the self-destruction of a once picture perfect family of four: a husband, wife and two college age children.

The Rev. Pete Tackett, father and former pastor of the largest church here and in the county, had been charged with patronizing a prostitute in 2009, 45 miles away in Nashville. The charge was eventually dropped.

But, the pastor returned home the same July night and told his wife, Lori, what had happened. The next day he went to his office in the 2200-member Southern Baptist church and began alerting his staff and the deacon leadership of the events from the previous night.

It initially appeared that Pastor Tackett might survive the mistake and remain in the job he loved, but after a season of praying with the church leadership it was decided that he needed to resign. A benevolent newspaper article in the local newspaper, The Columbia Daily Herald, told the story of Tackett’s citation and what had been known by a few became public knowledge in the county seat town.

The pastor and his family, through God’s grace and an overwhelming love for one another, thrived in what many would deem a survival-at-best situation.

“No, I was not surprised when Pete came home that night and told me what had happened,” said Lori, his wife and best friend for more than 25 years. “He had been under a tremendous amount of pressure because of a number of factors, including challenges at the church. I knew in my heart that something bad was going to happen.

“I feared something much worse would happen,” said Lori, who enjoyed being a pastor’s wife. “We have always been open and honest with one another. When my husband told me what had happened to him I believed him. I had no reason not to believe him.”

Tackett, who has lost more than 100 pounds since his resignation, had driven to Nashville’s Baptist Hospital that Wednesday night after a church service to visit an ailing church member. He has little memory of the short drive from the hospital to one of the least desirable sections of Tennessee’s capital city. “I got to that part of Nashville, heard a woman call to me and slowed to a stop.

“She jumped into my car and the blue lights of a Nashville policeman patrolling that area came on. I received a citation. My mistake was not in attempting to pick up a prostitute, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Tackett.

Lori, and their children, talked about a “coming together” of all members of their family through the challenges of the police encounter and suddenly being unemployed.

“We had a good marriage; today it is a much better and stronger marriage. It has not been easy, but God has been there for us. And, we have had support from a number of the members of our former church.”

Jonathan, studying computer science, expressed strong pride in his dad. “It would have been easy for him to come back to Columbia and try to cover this up. That is not what he has taught me. He has always been a wonderful role model for me…but he has been at his best during this period.”

The son said he had watched his dad accept the loss of the church he had led. “It was not easy, but he handled things in a way that made me realize that the faith he teaches and preaches is real for him. My faith, and I believe the faith of all of our family, is much stronger because what we have been through.”

Daughter Sarah, who plans to become a nurse, said she was handling her own set of problems at a university in East Tennessee when her dad’s problems surfaced. “We decided the best thing for me to do was to come home so our family could deal with this together.”

She talked about “communication issues” with her dad before the family united. “As the pastor of a large church, he was always busy. But, since resigning from First Baptist we have had so much more time together. We have talked about everything…and my relationship with my dad is better than it has ever been.”

Sarah and Jonathan continue to attend First Baptist Church, also known as First Family. Both youngsters commended friends in the contemporary church for their continuing support. “At first, some people did not know what to say. But, now we are accepted just as before all of this happened,” Jonathan said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has used these difficult experiences to strengthen our family and bring us much closer together,” said the Rev. Tackett.

Tackett and his wife now worship in a Southern Baptist church in a neighboring community.

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