Guitar music welcomed visitors arriving for a Sunday morning stop into Iron Skillet at Petro Stopping Center, where the Rev. John Peach holds a Truck Stop Ministry.
First, one or two walked into the center’s TV Room Sunday, March 26. Then, as services were under way, a couple more trickled in and then a couple more.
When Peach, 73, one of the ministers of Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church, saw the Rev. Leonard Turner, UCPC pastor, holding services for the church’s Truck Stop Ministries, Peach said he felt a burden to carry on the ministry.
“[The attendees] have been a greater blessing to me than I have been to them,” Peach said. “I look forward to their stories.”
The Truck Stop Ministry has been in existence for 22 years.
“[Turner] has been the pastor there [at UCPC] for 43 years,” Peach said of Turner. “He is the one who moved the church from Union Road and built the new building. He started [the Truck Stop Ministry at the Iron Skillet] at that same location, and he carried on every Sunday.
“I joined the church about three years ago, and when I joined I started going down there just to be a part of the ministry,” Peach said. “I was so blown away that a pastor who was beyond retirement years would go and have three or four truckers who would come.
“That so inspired me to dedicate my life to the ministry. Finally, about six or eight months ago, he just turned it over to me.”
Before his truck stop ministry, Peach said he had misconceptions about truck drivers and was afraid.
But after talking to the people who came to the services, he said he discovered they already were committed Christians who were looking for a place to worship.
“I found there are so many who love the Lord,” Peach said. “We had one service where a trucker brought in his Bible. And, we had one trucker who’s quite overweight, and he found the chairs were not quite big enough so he brought his own chair.”
Peach said he typically has from six to 10 attendees.
“We have a couple from the church who play musical instruments,” he said. “It’s kind of unique because every week we have a different congregation, a different group. One Sunday we had three truck drivers — and they were all women. Very seldom do you have a woman truck driver come in.
“This one dear lady really lit up my life. She had her Bible out and we started talking about the Bible,” Peach added. “She got to talking about the burdens.
“Every week there is something insightful about these people. There’s some novelty going on. I just look forward to what’s going to happen next. It’s exciting to see the response.”
Peach starts the services with songs, accompanied by David Ingram and David Stephens before he leads attendees in prayer and then gives the sermon. Afterward, he asks if there are any prayer requests or testimonies.
“It’s amazing what some of these truckers go through and what experiences they’ve had,” said Peach, who has lived in Farragut for 17 years after moving from California. He was ordained as a Baptist minister at age 21.
The truck stop ministry led one attendee to start a Hispanic ministry in Lenoir City as a minister for UCPC.
“He had surrendered his life to ministry,” Peach said.
Besides the Truck Stop Ministry, Peach also teaches a Sunday afternoon Bible study at UCPC.
After moving to Farragut, Peach switched to the Presbyter-ian faith and is now in the process of being ordained in Cumberland Presbyterian Church.