John and Delores Downing were honored Aug. 26 at a dinner banquet as he retired after 30 years as pastor of College Road Baptist Church in Ocala. About 400 people attended the retirement celebration held at Circle Square Cultural Center in Ocala. Guest speakers included John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention; Gary Townsend, director of Church Staff Benefits of the Florida Baptist Convention and former director of missions of Marion Baptist Association; and John Boone, team strategist for Sunday School, Groups and Discipling Ministries of the Florida Baptist Convention. Lyne Knowles, a longtime friend and leader of College Road in its formative days, shared tales of fishing trips with Downing, pictured with tangled fishing line. Downing was named pastor emeritus and he and Delores received various gifts from the congregation, including a love offering of $22,278. Assisting with the oversized check presentation was worship pastor Jeff Rountree (left) and Personnel Committee chairman Clayton James. For a story on Downing's ministry and retirement, see the article, "Ocala pastor retires after 30 years at College Road Baptist" in the Aug. 9 print edition.
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