The Blessing Known as Tommy Keown

Picture this: As the event coordinator, the hectic pace of the first day of VBS Preview begins at 7:00 a.m. The day is non-stop. Even meals are eaten standing. It is now approaching 9:00 p.m. You have been on your feet the entire time making sure no detail has been left unattended. You are ready to head to the hotel for a much-deserved rest, but people visiting the VBS EXPO are still going full steam and you can't leave until the last light is turned out. Evidently there is nothing left to do except find the nearest floor and take a nap!

Today I'm using this space to honor a man who has spent thirty-plus years serving churches in their mission of making disciples through the ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources. I am proud to say that part of this time was spent coordinating our national VBS Preview events.

Tommy Keown came to LifeWay (formerly The Sunday School Board) in 1982 as a small church music consultant. He traveled the nation teaching and equipping both professional and volunteer music leaders, and making friends all along the way. Tommy eventually moved from the music department to events where he became the lead event coordinator. At one time or another he has coordinated just about every event LifeWay has offered, including Sunday School Week, Black Church Week, Collegiate and Church Recreation events, and VBS Previews.

Tommy's retirement at the end of this week is not only a great loss to LifeWay, but to me personally. The years we spent as a VBS team will always be some of the most enjoyable - and down right fun - years of my adult life. Even on the longest days - as the picture above proves - you kept us focused and laughing. Your humor, especially your willingness and ability to laugh at yourself is a true gift.

Your dedication, professionalism, skills, and passion for any assignment given have been a tremendous inspiration and example to me and others. You are the consummate teacher, event coordinator, co-worker, and friend.

Thanks for adding your special touch to the world of VBS! You have been, and are, a blessing!


  1. Joyce Grimes says

    I will miss Tommy Keown at KMC, VBS Preview, and various places I have had the honor sitting un his conference leadership. He is so talented, inspirational, fun to be around. I'll never forget...."Who stole my chickens & my hens"... What a joy to attend any classes you lead! You welcomed my church to our first CentriKid experience in 2011 at Shocco. You will be missed! Have a great retirement!

  2. says

    Tommy is one of the most talented people on the planet. He always makes me and the rest of my family feel like we are part of his family whenever we go to the men's department at Belk. My daughter, Annie, and I go to the men's dept. just to see if Tommy is there. He is definitely one-of-a-kind. Love to all of the Keown family!

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