A man who has spent nearly 30 years as a minister, serving Paris for most of those years, received the top award bestowed annually by the Paris-Henry County Ministerial Alliance Monday night.
The Rev. James Travis, former pastor at the Church of the Living God on Gwen Street in Paris, was honored with the prestigious Drum Major for Justice Award during the alliance’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
Travis is now the pastor at the Church of the Living God on Monetta Avenue in Nashville, after spending 24 years at the Paris church.
Monday night’s event was hosted by Mount Zion Baptist Church on Irvine Street, whose pastor is the Rev. Andre Richardson, who has built the MLK Day celebration into a growing event the last few years.
Travis was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Lynette. They have four children. Their daughter Simone sang a solo and their son James read Travis’ biography during the event.
Travis made remarks during the celebration about how America and the world are in a “midnight” situation right now.
“Nations have engaged in colossal one-upmanship,” he said, referring to numerous international conflicts that are ongoing.
“Forty-point-three million people in the world are being exploited by human trafficking, forced labor or the sex trade. It’s midnight in our society,” Travis said.
He also referred to a health care situation, noting that Henry County leads the state of Tennessee in number of deaths by heart attack and is second in the state in the number of deaths by cancer.
“But, Governor (Bill) Lee refuses to accept over twenty-six billion dollars over the next ten years in federal money (from Medicaid expansion),” he said.
He urged that in answer to these issues, “the church must be the conscience of the state.”
Numerous speakers referred to Travis as a voice of truth, honesty and levelheadedness. They also spoke of his devotion to his job as pastor of the church in Nashville. He drives back and forth to Nashville from Paris every Sunday and every Wednesday, and many other days as needed.