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In Memory - Bro. Max Burris
Bro. Max Burris served on staff at Northcrest from 1983 until his death on Friday, June 22, 2012. Through these years, he served Northcrest as Minister of Music and Senior Adult Pastor."Bro Max was born in Albemarle, North Carolina, where he and his brother, Larry, learned a love of our Lord and singing praise to Him. He also developed a keen love for "slaw dogs" especially from Joe's Do-Nut Dinette which he delightfully shared with me on my one trip Albemarle on the occasion of the passing of his dad, Fred Burris.
Bro Max served our country in the U S Air Force where he learned cryptography in Korea. When he came back stateside he was stationed in Oak Ridge, TN. One day he came down from that high mountain to attend church in Clinton, TN where the world was changed forever. There he met a "barefoot" (as he always joking said) Mary June Stokes, asked her to the local dairy bar, The South Pole, and some time after, asked her to be his wife. Max and Mary June's marriage produced five precious, gifted and dedicated children: Barry, Sheila, Myron, Tanya, and Pamela whose lives & ministries have impacted people in churches in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina and Mississippi... plus others places that maybe only our Lord knows.
Max began working for Lance Corporation after his military days where his hard work and dedication quickly moved him up the company from route sales to a branch manager. Lance moved Bro Max to Mississippi to be over a branch that extended through East Mississippi and West Alabama. Max consistently produced high numbers and often led all other branches especially in new products. Bro Max was never afraid to start or try new things. He was an innovator. He and I would joke about him being one of the first branch mangers to start using spread sheets to document, track and analyze sales. Not having laptops or portable devices in the early days meant large stacks of green-bar fan fold dot-matrix reports at company meetings but he was quickly able to give any information questioned. Max's introduction to electronics and crypto equipment plus his work with Lance led to his love of electronics and new technology. Two of my favorite things to say about Bro Max were "He taught me everything I know about computers" and "When Best Buy runs out of stuff- they call Max". Max's life was full of irony. Even though he was our Senior Adult Minister, he was first on staff with a cell phone, first with an iPhone, first with an iPad and I'm sure he was first with many other things.
Lance's moving him to Mississippi was a blessing to many of our lives. Bro Max and Mary June joined the State Blvd Baptist Church here in Meridian, MS. After a series of events, Max became the Minister of Music at State Blvd. At State Blvd Baptist a very special relationship and friendship started with Bro. Malcolm Lewis (then Deacon Lewis). Bro Malcolm surrendered to preach at State Blvd and left to go pastor his first churches, Liberty & West Kemper in Kemper County. After a while Bro Malcolm called Bro Max and asked him to bring his family and come lead music at Liberty Baptist. After much prayer, thought, and "discussion" with Mary June, the Lord led Max to accept that call to Liberty which thus started a Sunday Morning ritual of getting all the children, Mary June and himself ready for church in a one bathroom house and then the long drive to Kemper County to be on time for church. From this Sunday morning ritual, I have heard many stories worthy of legends being made. I see all this as a testimony to Bro Max's love of our Lord and dedication to His kingdom. A love and dedication that was passed on to his immediate family and many of us, his extended family. Even after Bro Malcolm left Liberty as pastor, Max continued to serve faithfully the people of Liberty. Then one day in 1983, Bro Malcolm calls again and asks Max to come to a small church in Lauderdale Association, Northcrest Baptist. Northcrest had started in a store front in 1964 about five blocks from Bro Max's home. Through three pastors, Northcrest had pretty much plateaued around 35 members. Bro Malcolm saw a much bigger vision for Northcrest and that vision included having a great Minister of Music. Bro Max accepted the call and became the Minister of Music at Northcrest Baptist Church. In those early days there was no sound system, no media team, and let alone a regular accompanist. Bro Max led Northcrest to hire Mrs Dot Rodgers as our first pianist. Under his leadership we purchase our first box-amp two speaker Peavey system for a price of $600 which was debated greatly as an extreme expense. That amp system is still in working order at Northcrest almost 30 years later! Bro Max laid a foundation for Worship-leading choirs at Northcrest long before that was ever written or talked about. In those early days, the choir may have been half his family, but it was there leading each week. Bro Max grew the Ministry of Music here at Northcrest as the church grew in church a way that he was able move from being bi-vocational with working for both Lance and Northcrest, to the position of being the first full-time Minister of Music at Northcrest.
After almost 20 years as Minister of Music at Northcrest, Bro Max felt it time to retire. However, Bro Malcolm and our church leadership did not see his time as finished at Northcrest. He was asked to stay on in a part time position as Minister of Senior Adults and to revitalize a struggling ministry to Senior Adults. He took this new position with pride and dedication. Quickly our Senior Adult Ministry moved from 9 to 10 meeting for a monthly luncheon to more than 50 meeting at least twice a month for 50+ luncheons and his infamous "mystery trips". Max began an annual Senior Adult trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area in October. Like everything else Max gave his all to his new position. Even though he was actually retired and only supposed to work 20 hours a week, most weeks saw him putting in 40 or more hours at Northcrest. Most days he was the first one at the hospitals and many times last one to leave.
Bro Max supported Associational, State, and SBC causes, loved attending their meetings, and participating in the process. Bro Max was always a voice for mission causes, offerings and benevolent needs in our church and area. Bro. Max loved being a part of the Mississippi Singing Churchmen, especially after Barry moved back to Mississippi and they were able to sing in the group together.
Bro Max will always be known for his dedication, wisdom, and kind spirit. He was peace maker in a world of fighters. He was an innovator and one who truly lived by the idea that it was more blessed to give than receive. He gave is his whole life and many of us have been blessed by this great man of God, Bro Max Burris."*
*Personal reflection on Bro. Max Burris from Paul Davis, Worship Pastor Northcrest Baptist Church. These reflections are from 20 years of Ministry along side Bro. Max and listening to his stories of Life, Love and the Lord!