During a recent Sunday worship service at Mountainside Lutheran Church in Linville, the congregation paid tribute to two longtime members who have helped the church to grow and thrive over the past fifteen years. Don Baker and James Stanton were presented with plaques in recognition of their many contributions to the church.
“Both men helped shape this congregation as a community centered in the Word of God, in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to help us love one another and serve our neighbors,” said Pastor Bryan Chestnutt.
Baker, a native of Marion, Va., spent his early career at Lees-McRae College as Director of Public Relations and Alumni Affairs, Sports Information Director and teacher of art appreciation. In 1989 he was named Vice President of Informational Services and also Athletic Director. Baker garnered numerous awards during his tennis and football coaching days at Lees-McRae.
Following retirement with 34 years of service to the college, Don was Avery County Manager from 1996 to 2002. He also served on various county and state boards during this time, including Region D Council of Governments, the Avery Community Foundation and the Avery County GOP. In 2014 Baker was named to the Martha Guy Hall of Legends of Avery County.
Baker’s dedication to Mountainside Lutheran Church has included serving as Congregational President from 2012 to 2019. Additionally, he led the church during the year-long search for a new pastor, culminating in the calling of Pastor Chestnutt.
Don and his wife Joyce (also of Marion, Va.), have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Stanton, a Maine native, followed a two-year stint in the Air Force with jobs in Massachusetts, California and Florida. He worked on a crude oil pipeline and as an electrical engineer before working with IBM. He retired from IBM as a manager in 1988. Following his retirement, he and wife Joan settled in Avery County in 1990.
Stanton and Joan attended summertime Lutheran church services at Camp Linn Haven and became charter members of Mountainside Lutheran Church. Until earlier this year, Jim has been the only head elder of the church since 2003.
“I am thankful to the Lord for his many blessings,” Stanton said. In addition to his wife, Jim’s family includes three sons, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The plaques presented by the Mountainside Lutheran Church congregation celebrate that “We follow our Lord on the mountainside, where He teaches us, feeds us, heals us, teaches us to pray, calls us to live as His disciples and sends us out to serve others, to the Glory of God.”