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Photo of Bro. Thomas

Bro. C. Parker Thomas
1919 - 2004

Brother Thomas's Homegoing

A Brief History of the Ministry

It was on the Lord’s Day, August 8th, 2004 at approximately 5:50 PM., when Brother C. Parker Thomas was called home. He was 85 years of age. As family members, Elders, and others were gathered by his bedside singing hymns, and choruses…Brother Thomas quietly and peacefully slipped away into the presence of his Lord and Savior. I believe that Jesus greeted him with a gentle smile and said something like this… “You fought a good fight…You kept the faith…You finished your course…Well done good and faithful servant …Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Brother Thomas for many years spoke of leaving this life and being gathered unto his people…(The Saints of God). I am certain there was “Shouting and Singing” when he arrived at the “Portal of Glory.” Praise the Lord!

Brother Thomas has his “New Body” that he spoke about so often. Now…he is “FOREVER YOUNG.” No more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears. Won’t it be wonderful when the Lord comes for us all?

Brief Highlights of Brother Thomas’s Life

In the near future we will have a biography of Brother Thomas’s Life and Ministry which will be made available to the Lord’s people. However…at this time we will give you some memorable highlights of his life.

Shortly after World War 1, on April 27, 1919, Carlton Parker Thomas was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His father Herman and mother Edna (Williams) Thomas were the proud parents of a “Special Son.” Herman was a Street Car Conductor for the Jacksonville Transit Authority. Edna was a beautiful petite lady who played the organ at the Congregational Methodist Church.

Difficult Childhood

After four years of a “Rocky Marriage” Herman and Edna Thomas got a divorce. The “Roaring 20’s with all its vices (Living in the “Fast Lane,” Parties, and alcohol) was the cause of their failed marriage. Since neither parent was in any condition to care for Carlton and Helen (CPT’s younger Sister) they were taken in by relatives.

Most of the time Carlton’s tenure with his aunts and uncles was only about six months. Consequently, he rarely attended the same school for an entire year. In spite of the circumstances Carlton was a fast learner and applied himself at school. While the other children were playing, Carlton on many occasions would be relaxed under a tree reading an interesting book. He had an insatiable desire to learn.

Life on The Farm

Carlton went to stay with his Uncle Johnny Williams in Baker County Florida…which is about 35 miles west of Jacksonville, Florida. His Uncle Johnny was a real “Out-Doors-Man.” He raised cattle, was a fisherman, and loved to hunt alligators.

From 1925-thru-1929 Carlton lived an exciting and adventurous “Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn” type of life. In the summer time he played and fished in the St. Mary’s River from sun up to sun down. Often times he and his childhood friends would swing like “Tarzan” from a rope tied to a tree limb and jump into the river.

While playing “Tarzan” was fun, it did not compare with “Gator Hunting” with his Uncle Johnny. Early one morning about daylight young Carlton was awakened by his Uncle… “Get up boy…time-is-a-wasting…We’re going Gator Hunting.” Words cannot describe how excited Carlton was about his first gator hunt.

After walking about two miles into the swamp, Uncle Johnny gave Carlton some very important advice…” Look here, son…keep your eye out for “Water Moccasins,” don’t mess with any little baby gators, and stay close to me…unless you want to be pulled under the water by a “Big Momma Gator.” “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Carlton replied… “Yes sir…I understand.”

While his uncle was calling up gators (Making a “deep grunt-like sound” from his lower abdomen area) so as to entice a gator to come to the surface for the kill… Carlton soon became bored with the whole process. So he wandered off a good ways from his uncle to do some hunting of his own.

It wasn’t long before Carlton saw some baby gators swimming near by…so he quickly ran and grabbed a little gator in each hand. Immediately the baby gators began to make a “Loud Distress Call to their Mother.” Suddenly…without warning…A “HUGE” momma gator with her mouth fully opened lunged out of the water from behind a fallen tree toward Carlton… with the intent to rescue her babies.

Carlton quickly dropped both little gators and ran for his life. He tripped over a stump and fell to his knees… as he looked back behind him…he saw the angry gator just a few feet away. With great fear he cried… “She’s got me now!” Somehow he got up and made a second attempt to escape from the awful beast. While running away…he looked back once again to see where the gator was…and fell into the water again. Carlton yelled as loud as he could… “She’s got me now!” Then he heard a loud bang. Praise the Lord! Just in the nick of time…Uncle Johnny shot and killed the Huge Gator.

All in all…it was a productive day for both of them. Uncle Johnny made his kill for the day…which would net a good sum for the “Gator Hide” and the meat to eat. As for young Carlton…He learned a valuable lesson…Obey the rules of the swamp…and don’t mess with “Momma’s Baby Gators.”

Barn Yard …”Rodeo”…At Its Best

You’ve never lived until you have ridden a thousand pound “untamed steer” without saddle or rope. The young and fearless Carlton Thomas along with his thrill-seeking buddies decided that they would jump from the barn “hay loft” on to the back of a wild steer and ride him until he was broken. Guess who went first? You guessed it…none other than the “Ring Leader” C.P.T. himself As his buddies egged him own, Carlton took a deep breath and jumped from the loft hoping to land squarely on the back of the largest steer. Unfortunately, just as Carlton jumped, the steer took a step forward causing him to land on the steer’s rump.

Understandably, the frightened animal quickly began to run and Carlton slid off the steers’ rump. Although not to be outdone, Carlton grabbed his tail and held on for dear life. The steer ran “full speed ahead” throughout the barn yard not realizing that his fear and terror was due merely to a seventy-five pound eight year old boy. Carlton continued to hold on for what seemed to be “forever,” and having the time of his life while his buddies looked on and laughed uncontrollably. The ride, or shall I say “the pull” was going quite well until something very strange happened. “All I can remember is that I was having a very bumpy and dusty ride all over the barn yard when something “warm and mushy” slapped me in the face. The stench was so bad that I let go of the steer’s tail to see what it was. It was none other than a “fresh cow pie.” To say the least, this broke me from riding steers.” (C.PT.)

Childhood Role Playing

While many children played “Cowboys and Indians,” Carlton Thomas wanted to play “Preacher.” He would gather all the boys and girls in the neighborhood together and ask them to sit down and be quiet. After all were seated, he would begin preaching to them. “Repent of your sins…or you will bust hell wide open.” (C.P.T.) He would also repeat

other phrases that he had heard at church. It was more than just childhood role playing, it was some of the “First Signs” of the plan that God had for his life. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5).

“My Heart Burned Within Me”

Carlton went to stay with his Grandmother Missouri Williams in Taylor, Florida (about forty miles west of Jacksonville, Florida). Missouri Williams was a Godly woman that God used in a special way to expose Carlton to “anointed preaching.” Grandma Williams was a genuine Christian who had Godly principles and strong convictions about how to live and conduct your life, just as Lois and Eunice (Timothy’s grandmother and mother respectively) had great influence on young Timothy’s life. (II Timothy 1: 5). “I will never forget those times that Grandma Williams took me to Taylor Methodist Church . I can vividly recall the “Godly Country Preacher” …Brother Willie Crews. He would preach with great power and anointing telling people to repent and turn to God with their whole heart. He would tell us about Jesus, the cross, and the love of God. Just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus later testified, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way”… Luke 24: 32, my heart also on many occasions “burned within me” when I heard the powerful preaching of Brother Willie Crews. God was truly calling me and speaking to me even during my early childhood.” (C.P.T.)

No Stranger to Poverty And Hunger

During the “Great Depression” many people were without employment, had very little money, and certain types of food were in short supply. While times were hard, Carlton Thomas lived with the poorest of the poor throughout most of his early childhood. “I can vividly remember going to bed hungry on many occasions. Sometimes all we had to eat was “gruel.” Gruel was nothing but ground meal mixed with a little grease and fried together in a pan. It wasn’t very tasty, but it did help to curb my hunger pangs. At other times we would eat tomatoes and grits.” (C.P.T.)

On one occasion Carlton was over at a little friend’s house playing in the yard. At supper-time his friend’s mother came out to call him in to eat, and she also invited Carlton to stay and eat. His reply was… “No thank you, ma’am…I’m not hungry.” (C.P.T.) Actually, he was very hungry but ashamed to say so.

Carlton Thomas never had a dresser to put his clothes in while he was being shifted from place to place. He kept all his personal belongings in a little cardboard box. I’m sure you could imagine how wrinkled and tattered his clothes were. One day while walking down a dirt road, he spotted a lady riding toward him on a beautiful horse. Quick as a flash he crawled into a nearby culvert in the ditch to hide from her. As the horse got closer to the culvert he noticed Carlton and began to rear-up and refused to go any further. Soon the lady also discovered the object of the horses’ fear, and she said… “Carlton…come out of that culvert right now!…you have spooked my horse.” The reason Carlton hid in the culvert was because his clothes were ragged and torn and he was ashamed for this nice lady to see him looking so poorly.

Surprising as it may seem…It also gets very cold in Florida in the winter time. Carlton Thomas knew all too well how cold it was. “I can remember some winters that I had no shoes to put on my feet. My shoes were so worn out that they wouldn’t stay together, and my foster parents had no money to buy me any shoes. The cold hard ground kept my feet numb much of the winter.” (C.P.T.) Due to this prolonged exposure, Carlton had a bad cold, chest congestion, and a runny nose much of the time.

During his early childhood, Carlton Thomas witnessed and experienced many painful and sad things. He was bounced from place to place, he saw violence on many occasions, he suffered hunger and poverty, and he was a sickly child.

After all this, his testimony is… “During my childhood I never once felt sorry for myself…sure, I had many sad experiences, but I was thankful for all the things that I did have. God is good and he has been faithful to us all. (Romans 8:28). I have no bitterness toward God nor man.” (C.P.T.) Carlton Thomas had a love and compassion for people that goes beyond anything this writer has ever seen. Surely this compassion was worked into his heart by God…due to all that he had to go through.

More Pain and Sorrow …On The Road To Manhood

Carlton just turned eleven when he learned that his mother had remarried. This was good news to him because he had been living in a Boy’s Home for about two years in Jacksonville, Florida. As far as he was concerned…there were entirely too many restrictions and rules in the place. After all, he had been accustomed to freedom and the wide open spaces of country living.

Lon Westbrook…Carlton’s step-father had three sons (Other, Randle, & Enis) who were still living at home. Oh!…I almost forgot “Rastus” the long eared Hound Dog who was friendly to everyone. Carlton was the youngest of all the boys…and was well received by them as well as his new step-father.

You’ve got to get this picture…It was in the early stages of the “Great Depression”… most people were unemployed…people were hungry…and times were hard. Prohibition was the law of the land. Carlton had no idea what was going on in the Westbrook house until the weekend. Early on Friday morning, just before daylight…someone began knocking on the back door.

Rastus began barking and woke us all up. Other…the oldest son went to the door and let some rough looking character in. He was carrying jugs of liquor in both hands. After several trips from his car to the house, Lon Westbrook handed him a “big wad” of money and said… “I’ll see you next week” (C.P.T.)

Carlton, the three Westbrook boys, and Rastus all slept in a large room in the back of the house. It was called the “Liquor Room.” From Friday morning until late Sunday night the Westbrook boys were selling “bootleg liquor” like there was no tomorrow. Carlton Thomas…young and impressionable was getting a “cram course” in the liquor business …even though he didn’t sign up for it.

One day Carlton was washing his feet in the kitchen sink. With a heavy spirit and serious tone he said this to his mother Edna… “Momma, I need to get saved because I’m going to be twelve years old soon….and then, my sins will be on me” (C.P.T.) He had heard some preacher say that you are responsible for your sins when you become twelve. I believe it was the Lord tugging on his little heart.

When Momma Died…My Heart Was Broken

Edna was a petite woman who loved her children with an unconditional love. She was an exceptional organist and played it beautifully and skillfully in the Congregational Methodist Church. Through much hardship, a failed marriage, and a troubled life… Edna grew weaker and weaker. One day she noticed a nagging cough that just wouldn’t go away. She tried several remedies but her cough was not abated. Day after day the cough became more chronic. Finally, after weeks of suffering, she went to the doctor to find the source of her problem. The news wasn’t good. She was diagnosed with a severe case of T.B. (tubercle bacillus…better known as “Tuberculosis” Lung Disease)

The doctors did what they could…but her case was too advanced…Also they didn’t have the modern medicines back then that we have today. Carlton Thomas loved his mother dearly. She would rock him to sleep…she would sing to him…she gave her best with what she had to give. The Doctor walked into the room and informed the family that Edna had just passed away. She was only thirty four years of age. What a tragedy. The family grieved and comforted one another as best as they could.

Carlton walked out the door and began walking down the road with a broken heart. Just fifteen years old… he had lost the most important person in his life…he had lost his mother.

Conservation Corps…Here I Come!

With the Depression getting worse by the day…what was a young man to do to get ahead? The government initiated several “Work Projects” to help stimulate the economy, one of which was the C.C. Camp (Conservation Corps). This was an effort to maintain and to enhance our forests to become more healthy and beautiful.

Also, this provided an income for men who desperately needed to feed their families. As you could imagine, there was “Great Competition” for one to win one of these jobs. The requirements were simple…you must be at least eighteen years of age, be healthy enough to work, and prove to the “Boss” that you truly wanted this job.

Carlton was only sixteen at the time. You must understand…Carlton Thomas was quite a charming young man. When he set his mind to do something he gave it his all. After standing in line for a good while, finally he found himself standing in front of the man who could accept him or deny him this job. “Why do you want this job” (The Boss) “I need to work to help my sick father.” (C.P.T.) “When can you start?” (The Boss) “Immediately” (C.P.T.) Needless to say, the government official was moved and impressed by what Carlton had to say and how he conducted himself. He asked him to report to work the very next day.

Initially, Carlton’s first assignment was in the Osceola National Forest near his home Town of Macclenny, Florida. After a few months, he was transferred to the state of Pennsylvania…at the foot hills of the beautiful Allegheny Mountains.

At the end of a “day’s work” the men would return to their camp site to bathe and get ready for supper. After their meal, they would “Kick Back” and share stories from back home. Carlton at age sixteen was the youngest at the camp. Having a strong desire to learn from these older men, he took notes and wrote down words that he didn’t understand. Later he would look them up in the dictionary to learn their meaning. Although he only attended school through the sixth grade, his learning continued day-by-day.

Carlton wrote to his father frequently to check on him, and to inquire about other relatives as well. A man of his word…Carlton sent five dollars a month to his father to help him through the hard times of the “Great Depression”.

After eighteen months of conservation work, Carlton developed a “chronic cough” just as his mother had before she died with T.B. The cough continued for several weeks. His boss was concerned for Carlton’s health, so he made an appointment for him at the nearest government hospital. When the time for his appointment came, Carlton with apprehension went and was given a thorough physical. A few days later…the doctor gave him the diagnosis. Job said…”The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me” (Job 3:25). Just as Job feared the worst... Carlton’s suspicion was realized…he had T.B.

SANATORIUM…ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Carlton was transferred to Orlando, Florida to a sanatorium for treatment of T.B. It didn’t take him long to win the hearts of the doctors, nurses, and patients. Although, he had encountered many hardships in his youth…he was an “eternal optimist.”

Some of the nurses at the sanatorium were quite young and beautiful. Carlton was eighteen and a very handsome young man himself. This was a recipe for romance. The nurses gave Carlton special treatment and he would sing to them. After two years of treatment. Carlton was discharged from the sanatorium and also from the Conservation Corps.

MOONSHINE DAYS…

In 1940 Carlton returned to Macclenny, Florida to live with his father. During this time he was running with the “wrong crowd.” Carlton and his first cousin Enoch Thomas worked together making and selling “moonshine” for several years. The hours were long and the work was hard…not to mention the effort it took to stay one step ahead of the “long arm” of the law. Carlton always had money in his pockets and had a vehicle to drive during his bootlegging days. He envisioned even greater things ahead. God, however…had a much different and better plan.

BAD WRECK

One rainy night Carlton and a friend of his had been drinking and were on their way back to Jacksonville, Florida. Suddenly, they were blinded by “Bright Lights” of an oncoming vehicle that was in their lane. Carlton tried with all his might to avoid hitting the vehicle. Next…there was a thundering crash…from the “head-on-collision.” While the other driver was bruised and his friend a little banged up, Carlton had suffered severe and life-threatening injuries. He was transported to a hospital in Jacksonville. The doctors worked with him through the night to stop the internal bleeding. During his surgery, the doctor discovered that his spleen was ruptured, several organs were damaged and bruised, and broken bones as well. The doctors did all they could. His life was in God’s hands.

As the days passed, Carlton developed infection and peritonitis. He was in excruciating pain. He grew worse with each passing day. After a few weeks he had lost much weight. He was given morphine every day to curb the unbearable pain that he suffered. Now…he was down to ninety pounds, just barely clinging to life. Most of his relatives and the doctors had lost any hope that he would live. But…not his Sister Helen…She stayed by his bedside day and night praying for him. She never gave him up to die.

This accident (as others would see it) was in God’s divine plan to get Carlton’s attention…so that he would look to God and take inventory of his life. God had a “Special Purpose” for his life. Little by little Carlton grew stronger and stronger and was released from the hospital to return home.

SHIP YARD BRIDE…

After several months of recovering from his injuries, Carlton took a job at the Jacksonville Ship Yard. He had to take an entrance exam so that his talents could be used to their best potential. His results were very good. He was categorized as “High Grade.” He worked hard and did what he was told. He quickly learned the ropes…and was promoted to “Foreman.”

It was during W.W. II that Carlton worked at the Ship Yard. He was not accepted in the military due to injuries from the car wreck and T.B. There was a shortage of male workers at the Ship Yard…so many wives and single women took jobs as welders.

You would think that Carlton had learned some lessons from his setbacks (T.B., Car Wreck, and Hard Times) …on the contrary, he continued to frequent the bars and to get into scuffles and “Knock-Down…Drag-Out Fights.” There is no doubt…Carlton had pent-up bitterness and anger that was driving him in the wrong direction. He felt that life had dealt him some tough blows…and he was unknowingly fighting back and venting his anger on others.

One Saturday night Carlton and his cousin Albert went to the bar to quench their thirst. After a few beers, someone said something they didn’t like…so they sprang into action. Carlton and Albert fought long and hard but they were “out-numbered”. After having six beer bottles broken on his head…with blood flowing down his face…Carlton and Albert “Got Out Of Dodge.” The following Monday morning with a hundred or more stitches in his head, Carlton showed up for work with a baseball cap on his head to hide the embarrassing evidence of his weekend activities.

Carlton…on the same Monday, asked a very attractive female welder, to “spot weld” something for him. He could have asked several other welders, but he chose this “petite blonde” (Kathleen Wall) because he was attracted to her. He had taken note of her several weeks before…and was determined to find out more about her. When Kathleen finished the weld, Carlton said to her…”Good Job,” and Kathleen smiled in return… and said… “Thanks.” Carlton being “fast on his feet”, noticed her expressive smile which indicated to him that she was glad to be in his company. Seeing his opportunity…Carlton made his move by asking… “How about a date with you this Friday night?” Temporarily ignoring Carlton’s question, Kathleen noticed his cap and took it off. When she saw his shaven head with several gashes and fresh stitches…she replied… “I don’t know if I want to go out with you or not.”

Now…for the rest of the story. Kathleen did not go out with Carlton on that Friday night. Instead, she invited him to her mother’s for Sunday Dinner. Carlton, being young, handsome, and especially charming…made quite an impression on Kathleen’s mother. When he left, Mrs. Wall told Kathleen… “You better hold on to this man…he’s a winner.”

After months of courtship, Carlton and Kathleen were married on February 3rd, 1945.

CONVERSION…

Marriage had a wonderful effect on Carlton and Kathleen. Carlton settled down and discontinued his visits to the bars. Day-by-day his mind went back to the time when his Grandmother Missouri Williams took him to church. His heart was longing to hear the preaching he heard as a little boy. When Brother Willie Crews preached… “To repent and turn from your wicked ways…and turn your life over to God.” Carlton felt a powerful tugging upon his heart. He told Kathleen and others that if he ever got saved...he would have to “preach.” Perhaps, that is why he fought it so long.

Carlton’s burden grew heavier with each passing day. Jesus was calling him unto himself… “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30).

It was on Sunday night (1947) when Carlton made up his mind to visit the Beaver Street Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He had noticed for weeks that this church always had a large number of cars parked during church time. Carlton surmised that this church had something special going on.

When he entered the church he was greeted cordially…and quickly found a place to sit. After the singing, a visiting preacher from the state of Virginia was introduced to the congregation. “I don’t remember the title of the sermon…but I do know that Jesus and the “Cross” was lifted up. The message tugged on my heart and caused me to feel my need of God.” (C.P.T.)

“I went to church that night only to observe. I did not go to be a willing participant in any way.” (C.P.T.) After the preacher concluded his message, he asked this question… “How many in attendance tonight would like to be saved?” Then, he said… “If you do, then please raise your hand so that I can pray for you. As many others, did, Carlton raised his hand also. When the preacher finished his prayer, he gave these instructions… “Now, all of you that raised your hands…come down front RIGHT NOW! Reluctantly, Carlton left his seat and went to the front with the others. Immediately, several Deacons came to instruct each candidate on “How To Be Saved.”

Carlton… feeling “Tricked” into this predicament, began to cause a “Ruckus” by speaking loudly and protesting the “Gimmick” that was used to get him up front. Angrily…he said… “I don’t appreciate the way you do things around here.” (C.P.T.) The Pastor of the Church (George Hodges) asked his head Deacon to take this disgruntled man into his office…and to assure him that he personally would speak with him after the service.

As soon as the service was over, Pastor Hodges and a couple of Deacons went to speak with Carlton. Brother Hodges asked him… “Sir, what is your problem?” Carlton replied… “I don’t agree with your method of tricking people and using “Fear Tactics” to get people saved.” (C.P.T.) Pastor Hodges said… “The Apostle Paul believed in it.”… Then he quoted this scripture… “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (II Cor. 5:11). After hearing this, Carlton became silent.

Pastor Hodges asked him… “Do you want to be saved?” Carlton answered… “Sure I do…everybody wants to be saved don’t they?” (C.P.T.) Pastor Hodges wisely replied… “No! everybody doesn’t want to be saved. What I want to know is…Do You Want To Be Saved…NOW?” Immediately…Carlton fell to his knees and said, “YES, I DO.” He began weeping and sobbing uncontrollably. All the bitterness and anger left him. Peace like a river flowed into his heart. For days and weeks he couldn’t stop weeping and rejoicing for what the Lord had done for him. His conversion was similar to the Apostle Paul. Carlton ran from God and fought against him for a long time. Then…God “Arrested Him” and gloriously saved him.