Tears of sadness and tears of joy as members of First Baptist Church Pascagoula watch Dr. Rex Yancy deliver his last sermon from the pulpit.
"I'm just so thankful the Lord has allowed me to invest 15 years of my life with you, and the Lord allowed you to invest 15 years of your life with me," Yancy says as he greeted his congregation Sunday morning.
Expanding the church's facilities to spreading hope and help in the aftermath of Katrina. Yancy's dedication to serving the people of Pascagoula and beyond is echoed by church members.
"Rex has been a wonderful leader in our church, in the community; he's taken part in the community, not just here in the church," long-time church member Evelyn McCarty says.
"He meant a great deal to me, he's an outstanding pastor. He preaches the word. That's one thing, but he lives the word. That means a lot more to me than other things," member Billy Witchen says.
He's been attending the church for 80 years.
A packed congregation proves those sentiments are felt by many.
"There'll be a lot I'll miss, and of course I'll come back time to time," Yancy says.
Mayor Matthew Avara and Councilman Mike Mangus presented Yancy with not only the key to the city, but they also declared today "Dr. Rex Yancy Day" in Pascagoula. As hundreds lined up to share one last hug with Yancy, it was evident that he'll always be welcome back with open arms.
"I'll take them with me wherever I go, but it's sad. It's an end," Yancy says.
Yancy will be moving back to his hometown, Ripley, Mississippi. He will be the pastor at the First Baptist Church there. His 15 years in Pascagoula was the second longest tenure in the church's history.