On Sunday, Jim Geer ended his 70-year career as a Sunday school teacher with a final lesson on practically the only thing that will last longer than his time in the front of a church classroom.
It will go on for eternity; Geer, 93, has only been teaching the Bible since 1945.
For the last 18 years, his class of fellow seniors has been at Woodlawn Baptist Church. Before that (1954-98), he taught Sunday school at Grace Methodist. And from 1945 to 1954, Geer was a Sunday school teacher at Calvary Methodist. All three churches are in Charlotte, his hometown.
“I hate to give it up,” Geer said Sunday. “But I want to give it up in a solid Christian way while I have all my marbles.”
Geer traces his decades as a Sunday school teacher to World War II, when he was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army’s 2nd Armored Division – also known as the “Hell on Wheels” tank outfit that fought under Gen. George Patton.
He saw combat in North Africa, Sicily, France, Belgium and Germany during the last days of Hitler’s reign in Germany. Things got so frigid during the Battle of the Bulge that he kept his and his men’s feet and hands from freezing by sleeping in a barn – their limbs covered with warm cow manure.
But it was in a French foxhole one night that Geer made his covenant with God. He promised that if he made it home safely, he’d do anything the Lord asked of him.
“I got home, and when I went to church that first Sunday, I was asked to teach Sunday school,” he said.
From almost the beginning, Maxie, his wife of nearly 70 years, has been with him every Sunday, offering him help and encouragement – and talking him out of quitting. “I could never have done this without her,” Geer said.
At Woodlawn Baptist on Sunday, he taught his 18 students – including Maxie – from the Book of Revelation.
“It was about our home in eternity,” said Geer, who will turn 94 in November. “I tried to describe heaven and what it would like to be with Jesus forever.”
And Geer’s plans for next Sunday?
“I will be back in my (Woodlawn Baptist) classroom – listening to the new teacher.”