Central Christian Church’s blue neon cross has been beckoning Bill Russell for decades.
He grew up two blocks from the Midtown church at the corner of Peabody and McLean.
He was in the Cub Scouts at Central. He was baptized by the late Rev. Charles Woodall, who was Central’s pastor for 24 years.
His mother was Central’s pianist for many years, his aunt was organist and choir director. Now, his daughter, Amy, is the congregation’s pianist and choir director.
Ironically, Russell, who has been a bi-vocational minister since the 1970s, was never a member at Central.
That will change Sunday when Russell, 63, is installed at Central’s new pastor.
“This really is like coming home,” said Russell, who owns Russell Brothers Fine Jewelers.
Russell succeeds Scott Pricer, who left in December to become pastor of Faith Christian Church. Pricer followed Woodall.
Russell has served seven congregations over the past 40 years as a minister of youth, music or evangelism. This will be his first assignment as pastor.
“My hope for Central is that it can continue to have a vital ministry in the Midtown area and be a vibrant place of worship for those in Central Gardens,” Russell said.
Russell’s wife, Anne, is organist at Kingsway Christian Church. They’ve been married for 44 years and have four children and eight grandchildren.
Two of his children are members at Central.
“Never let your children give you your email address and set it up for you,” said Russell, whose email address is amoron@.
“That said, over the years I have really grown to appreciate the fact that when people type it in or it shows up in their in-box, it puts a smile on their face. And it is easy to remember.”