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Meet Our Members: Scott and Barbara Wheeler

It wasn’t a coincidence, but rather a divine providence that Mr. Fred Lowry “just so happened” to be the Gideon speaker at the Wheeler’s church in Boone in 1977. Scott and Barbara had just told their pastor that Scott had been promoted to a management position with Southern Bell and they would be moving to Statesville. The pastor announced their news to the congregation and then introduced Fred Lowry as the Gideon speaker for the service. A long-time member of WABC, Fred Lowry said he could recommend a good church in Statesville, so the Wheelers visited and then joined. 

Scott and Barbara both grew up in small, country Baptist churches. Some of Barbara’s earliest memories are of the days her parents were saved, and from that point on, if the church doors were open, their family was there. Barbara’s dad served as Sunday School Superintendent and her mom taught the Beginner Sunday School Class as far back as she can remember. The pastor of the church and any visiting ministers were frequent guests in their home for a meal. During the August 1957 revival, the visiting minister was over to her home for a meal when he asked if she had ever thought about being saved. She answered that she had because she had been under conviction all week. At the Saturday morning service, Barbara could not wait to get to the altar to pray to ask God to save her. She was baptized in the Roaring River the next day. Scott also came under conviction during fall revival and surrendered his heart to Jesus on Thursday night of the revival.

Scott and Barbara were introduced by Barbara’s best friend’s parents in January 1966. Scott was drafted into the US Army in August of 1966 and spent twenty months at Fort Sheridan, IL, serving as a military policeman and an honor guard standing at attention at the funerals of many young men killed in Vietnam. Their dating consisted mainly of daily letters and a few furloughs over Scott’s two years of military service. They were married in 1968 after he got out of service. They began their married life in Scott’s hometown of Boone where he worked at WATA Radio as an on-air personality and later for Southern Bell. Barbara worked for the law firm of Kennedy, Covington, Lobell and Hickman who represented several resorts in the area and later for the Federal Land Bank.

After moving to Statesville in 1977, Barbara did freelance accounting for small businesses while their daughters, Jennifer and Natalie, were growing up. In 1992, after having taught part-time in the business department at Mitchell Community College, Barbara took a full-time position that led to serving as the Director of Financial Services for the college until she retired in 2015. Scott left AT&T and the Bell System in 1985 instead of taking a transfer out of state. He retired in 2010 from the NC Department of Transportation as a Driver’s License Examiner. 

Barbara was involved in church as a teenager when she became the church pianist and leader/pianist for the Junior Choir. Scott lost his father at a young age and his maternal grandfather, a leader in the church, became his role model. As teenagers, Scott and his brother, Johnny, would get up early on Sunday mornings and walk a mile to the church to build fires in the pot-bellied stoves so that the building would be warm for the morning services. When Scott and Barbara married and settled in Boone, they joined Greenway Baptist Church, a young mission of First Baptist Church-Boone. While they were there, Scott was ordained as a deacon in his mid-twenties. They became very involved with the church’s ministry to ASU students, sang in the choir and worked with youth, youth mission groups, WMU and Brotherhood.  

Fred Lowry had told Western Avenue the Wheelers would be moving to Statesville and a couple weeks after they arrived, the weekly visits from the pastor and visitation teams began. Due to her pregnancy at the time and heightened sense of smell, Barbara had a negative first impression of the church because of the odor from the preschool wing from the weekday day care. Another negative was that they told the visitation team they preferred a couples’ class, but were told there wasn’t one, only separate classes for men and women. Ralph Carter had come to Western Avenue straight out of seminary in January of that year (1977) as the new pastor. His youth and energy in the pulpit were exciting and the music was great. It made them feel like they were back home at Greenway. However, WABC was at least twice as large as any other church either of them had ever been a part of and that was a concern. They visited a few other churches but did not find another church where the Word was preached and taught like they had heard at Western Avenue and they didn’t find as many young couples with children anywhere else. So, Barbara decided God wanted them at WABC (Scott had already decided before her) and on Sunday, December 18, 1977, (Ralph Carter’s 25thbirthday), they joined Western Avenue and have never regretted their decision. Barbara soon began working in the preschool department.

There is no doubt God called the Wheelers to Western Avenue 41 years ago and he continues to bless them through WABC. They know of no other church in the Statesville area where their daughters could have received the Bible teaching and training they have received here. Their daughter, Jennifer, and her family have driven the 45 miles to attend Western Avenue as they searched for their own “Western Avenue”. Their daughter, Natalie, met her husband in the Western Avenue youth group and her family continues to attend and serve at Western Avenue alongside their extended families. 

Western Avenue has given Scott and Barbara opportunities to serve, to grow and to learn beyond anything they could have imagined. Scott has served as a deacon all through the years and on the Five Year Long Range Planning Committee that recommended the move from Western Avenue to our current location. They have both been involved with youth mission organizations, WMU and Brotherhood. They have served as youth leaders and chaperones, on the Personnel and Finance committees, Capital Campaigns, Treasurer, Church Clerk and many other committees and positions. They continue to be amazed and blessed at how God works through our church leadership and the commitment of the membership to follow God’s leading and how He always provides the financial means needed to support the ministry of the church.

Western Avenue has a group of extremely talented, intelligent and Godly men on their ministerial staff who are poised to lead the church forward. The vision for missions and the number of members traveling around the world on a regular basis is mind-boggling. The Wheelers are also excited and thankful for the vision to build a new children’s wing where children can have the space they need to grow and learn about Jesus and where they can be safe.

Posted by Meredith Collins at 7:00 AM