Sojourners Joe and Linda Thomas will be recognized at Homecoming with the Servant Leader Award. This award is presented to York College alumni or friends who have gone above and beyond in acts of Christian service.

The Thomases have been a part of Sojourners for eight years, traveling the country to volunteer their time at Christian schools, camps, and small churches. In that time they have developed a zeal for strengthening churches in Nebraska. In addition to regular Sojourning activities, they have developed and organized a series of workshops designed to encourage churches throughout the Midwest.

Their most recent Doors of Opportunity workshop invited presenters from six states to talk about what’s working in their churches, from effective Bible classes for all ages, to community programs, to strategies for evangelism, outreach, and ministry. The event drew more than one hundred people to the York College campus to participate.

The recent workshop in York was the fifth Doors of Opportunity Workshop the Thomases have organized in Nebraska. Another is on the schedule for September in Ogallala.

Linda says the workshops are “about becoming what God wants us to be as the church.” They focus on encouraging small congregations and the leaders who serve them. They also present new ideas to help churches flourish. “This is one small way that we can support people,” said Linda.

Joe noted that there are 42 churches of Christ in Nebraska and about 4,000 people affiliated with those congregations. When compared to the more than 500 churches of Christ in his home state of Oklahoma, Joe sees much work to be done. He preaches regularly in pulpits across Nebraska and the North Central States and will also preach in Canada this summer. Joe enjoys providing a respite to preachers at small churches, who seldom get a Sabbath rest. He rarely gets turned down when he calls a church and offers to fill in on a Sunday morning. “It’s hard to imagine when you’re in a large congregation what it’s really like out there,” said Joe, who relishes the opportunity to bless those that give so much of themselves to bless others.

Natives of Clinton, Oklahoma, both Joe and Linda graduated from Oklahoma Christian University and spent much of their careers teaching public school. Linda taught English and became a school administrator, serving as the assistant superintendent in a school system of more than 2,000 students. Bringing her education and administration experience to bear, Linda recently joined the board of trustees of York College. Joe worked in the family’s retail business for 20 years before moving into the classroom, teaching PE and coaching baseball and basketball for many years. Joe has a passion for outdoor sports, such as hiking, biking, and scuba, and has taught scuba diving classes. The couple has three children and four grandchildren.

The Servant Leader Award will be presented to Joe and Linda during alumni chapel on Saturday, October 20, 2018.