Dale and Jeff Jenkins recently published an online magazine ON Preaching and Ministry – My Hero in Preaching. There was an error in the magazine attributing an article about Gus Nichols to me instead of Scott Harp. I thanked Jeff and Dale for the mistake, the other Scott wrote a great article!
After reading, I thought about some of my preaching heroes. A while back I wrote short articles about two of them from my childhood:
Today I want to tell you about a third. This one is from my college years and then again 10 years later until today. I had the opportunity not only to work closely with this hero as a minister with a neighboring church, but also in radio, television, and funerals from 1999 until 2014. We still cross paths occasionally although I am an hour away from him now. During my graduate work, I interviewed Levi Sides for a class project, this post is an edit of that interview.
Since the summer of 2004, Levi Sides has been serving as a minister with the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ in Jasper, Alabama, where his responsibilities include teaching Bible classes, preaching in the absence of the preaching minister, preaching on the Words of Truth radio program, Search the Scripture TV program, and working with the senior members of the congregation. When describing his style of preaching, he says his goal is to “preach the Word with as little harm and as all the good that I possible can.”
Levi Jackson Sides was born to Andrew Jackson Sides and Myrtle Sides in the Blackwater area of Nauvoo, Alabama on February 10, 1942. His parents were members at Blackwater Macedonia Church of Christ, where his father would serve as an elder. His parents named him after his Great-Great-Great Uncle whose grave marker behind the ‘Old Fifth Avenue’ building reads, “Levi Sides, Indian Fighter.” The elder Levi Sides served under Andrew Jackson during the Creek Indian Wars.
“Preach the Word with as little harm and as all the good that I possible can.”
Brother Sides believes that the Church and the local school as the major influence in his life. At the age of 11 years, Levi Sides was baptized into Christ for the remission of his sins and became a child of God. Four years later at the age of 15 he preached his first sermon. During the final two years of high school, Bro. Sides preached for the Shiloh church of Christ, which is now one of the two congregations that merged to form the Midway congregation. This opportunity to preach earned him the nickname of “preacher” with his fellow high school students. When graduation came, Levi Sides preached the Baccalaureate Address to his fellow seniors. Bro. Sides mentioned the late Paul Wylie, former school teacher, state education leader, and minister of the Goodsprings Church of Christ south of Parrish, Alabama. He also made mention of the late Gus Nichols, preacher at the Sixth Avenue Congregation, who encouraged his development as a preacher and motivated young Levi Sides to attend Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee.
Levi did attend Freed-Hardeman and received an Associate of Arts Degree. He continued his education at Harding College and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion. He attended classes at Harding Graduate School of Religion, but did not receive a degree. Other degrees include a Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education, a Bachelor of Science in History, and a Masters of Education. These degrees would serve him as he worked in both church and school settings throughout his life.
In the communities surrounding Jasper, Alabama, Levi Sides busies himself performing funerals for members of the church and community. His compassion and care for people facing their own death and the death of a loved one gives him the reputation as an encourager and friend. To go along with this reputation, Mr. Sides suggested that he would like to be known as a “Preacher of the Amazing Grace of God.”
Note – Levi and I share the same birthdate (today) and same wedding anniversary (August 12). Happy Birthday, Levi!