Pastor Andy Collette loved Jesus. And he loved Jeeps. But he loved Jesus more.
He was a member of the Seven Slot Jeep Club, and he loved driving his Jeep. But he was also a member of the United Methodist Church and a born again child of the Most High.
He loved Jeeps. But he loved Jesus more.
Andy’s obituary will fill the gaps that will help us to remember our beloved friend and pastor. His memory will be forever ours to cherish.
I will try my best to express here my love and appreciation for this gentle giant of a man.
On Monday night of this past week, Andy met Jesus face to face. He finished his course. He kept the faith. He heard his very own “Well done, good and faithful servant” affirmation from our LORD Himself.
Andy was my friend, a co-laborer in ministry, and a long-time Jackson County resident, though, like many of us, this was not his original birthplace. Our friendship began in 2006 when I met him at Salvation Army Corps in Pascagoula. He was assigned here while I was the worship leader for Church on the Rock, and we immediately knew that there was a spiritual kinship.
As we would cross paths, volunteer together for various community projects, and sometimes share a pulpit, Andy’s bigger-than-life presence and his contagious smile would immediately brighten the room. I loved that about Andy. He would literally fill the room with his presence, sometimes without uttering a word, but his smile would say everything that you needed to know about him.
As Andy continued to minister in Pascagoula, the Seashore District of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church would eventually gain Andy’s attention, as he was called into ordination for pastoral ministry.
Bishop James Swanson and other Mississippi UMC leaders quickly adored Andy’s love for God, for His Church, and for all people.
This past Saturday, our newly installed district superintendent Larry Hilliard shared many wonderful memories at Andy’s homegoing celebration held at Eastlawn United Methodist Church in Pascagoula.
We cried, we laughed, and we remembered. But mostly, we worshiped. We sang old hymns of our faith. We read scripture. We prayed. And, we recalled our various stories of our beloved “Brother Andy.”
Pascagoula will not be the same without Andy Collette. Friday night football games with our PHS Panther Pride Band will be different without Andy on the Band Parent “Boosters” pit crew, hauling band gear from the band hall to the marching field. Sundays at Eastlawn United Methodist Church will not be the same. Our occasional pastor lunches and hangouts will be different without Andy.
But Andy would want us to press on. Andy would want us to mourn his passing, to cry over his absence, to hold one another closely as we grieve. But, he would surely want us all to carry on. To continue to share the Love of Christ with all who would receive.
Andy, I love you, my brother. Your passion for Jesus and for people is forever etched into my spirit. Your influence in our City is forever imprinted in our hearts and minds.
Your legacy lives on in the beautiful lives of your sweet wife Michelle and your precious daughter Alannah. Your love for our LORD and His Church has affected hundreds of parishioners, and possibly thousands of believers through the reach of those congregants.
Well done, Brother Andy. Well done!