The Rev. Robert P. Wormely, 76, a pastor who built his congregation on fundamentals of doctrine and Scripture, died Tuesday in his West Toledo home.
He had cancer for more than two years, yet he attended Sunday services at his church, Southern Missionary Baptist, until about three weeks ago. He last preached Feb. 7.
The church "was his passion, and that was his calling," his granddaughter Alicia Hitt said. "He was truly a man of God."
Southern Missionary Baptist had about 30 members and worshipped in space rented from another church when Mr. Wormely became pastor in the early 1980s. By Sept. 1, 1984, ground was broken for its new home on an acre at Indiana Avenue and True Street.
"We were looking for a place to build, and the Lord pointed this out to me," Mr. Wormely told The Blade in 2008.
Expansions followed in 1997 and 2003, and the congregation now numbers more than 1,000, said Deacon Elgie Summers, who in April, 1983, was the first deacon ordained by the then-new pastor.
"He believed very, very deeply that God was directing his path," Mr. Summers said. "His vision was enormous. It's hard to explain that this man had a vision of where we were going. You had to be around him to see. He was a man ordained by God."
Mr. Wormely in 2008 said he wanted his church to be friendly, where people "can come and feel good and be part of it." He called the music "a little jazzed up," with organ, drums, and other instruments. But he believed the church's most important duty was to preach Scripture.
"…The music will fade away, but the Word of God will never fade away," Mr. Wormely told The Blade.
He was independent of fad and fashion, Mr. Summers said.
"He was very forthright, very fundamental, very doctrine-oriented," Mr. Summers said. "He pastored that way, and he administered that way."
His granddaughter said: "He was in charge. Right was right, and wrong was wrong."
In 2008, Toledo City Council named a section of True next to the church, "Rev. Robert P. Wormely Way," to mark his 25th anniversary as pastor.
He was born Nov. 24, 1933, in Brown, Ala., the son of Classie and Nelson Wormely. He caught a bus to Toledo in search of work in 1951. He later served a hitch in the Army.
He worked at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. for 26 years, retiring in 1992 when his work schedule kept him from church three Sundays out of four.
Before Southern Missionary Baptist, he was an associate pastor at Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, under the Rev. John E. Roberts. He was pastor for two years of Solomon Temple Baptist Church.
He was a mentor to many, and congregation members were like family, his granddaughter said.
Mr. Summers said, "That was my friend, my confidant. All my development I give to him."
Surviving are Mr. Wormely's wife, Edna, whom he married Jan. 12, 1956; sons, Alonzo and Robert Wormely, Jr.; daughters, Yolanda Peterson and Felicia Pettaway; brothers, Nelson Wormely, Jessie Feggins, and Walter Readus; sisters, Johnnie Feggins, Oscie Coleman, and Betty Covington; seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. today at Southern Missionary Baptist Church followed by wake services from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the church.
Arrangements are by the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home.
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