Hodges to continue LYN work despite TBN closure

The Gadsden Times, Alabama/April 6, 2018

By Donna Thornton

When Gary Hodges shared that changes in federal regulations were going to mean big changes for Trinity Broadcast Network, and possibly for him, his fellow Love Your Neighbor Movement organizers started praying.

Hodges has been one of the driving forces for the past four years in the LYN’s work to identify needs and marshal people in the community to meet them. Those who’ve worked with him didn’t want to lose, Tabernacle Pastor Tommy Marshall said, and Hodges didn’t want to be lost to the effort.

FCC deregulation means a national network like TBN no longer has to have a studio — like the one Hodges has managed in Gadsden. The network is “de-commissioning” 26 stations, centralizing all network production in five hub cities: Orlando, Nashville, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

What viewers see will remain the same, run largely by automated processes.

The change meant the closing of the Gadsden station — where some public affairs reporting and local programming was produced — and for Hodges, it meant the possibility of going to one of those hub cities to work.

But another opportunity arose — the result of seeds planted long ago, Hodges said. Decades ago, Hodges spent about 18 years as a music and youth minister. While he was at New Hope Baptist Church in Columbia, Mississippi, a pair of brothers in his youth group became, and remained, close friends. Their father was on the personnel committee that hired Hodges.

They’ve kept in touch over the years, and when they talked and Hodges told them of the choices he faced, they offered another one: to come work for them, as a salesman in their sheet metal roofing business.

Hodges said he will be a sales manager for R&R Roofing in Alabama, allowing him to stay in the Gadsden area and to continue work with LYN.

The LYN movement has worked thus far in large-scale cleanup and renovation projects at homes on South 11th Street. A number of churches, groups and individuals combined to do yard work, painting and repairs for residents in the area, and to establish relationships to also help with the less cosmetic needs in their lives.

LYN is preparing to do similar work this summer in the Tuscaloosa Avenue area, Hodges said. Preliminary work has been underway — meetings with residents and officials who serve the community to identify what residents want and need there to improve the community, with LYN’s support.

The initial cleanup day will be July 14. LYN participants will meet at 7 a.m. at Gadsden City High School, where Church of the Highlands will be spearheading. Hodges said the cleanup effort will put LYN in the community to show people the intent to help where the residents want help.

After that, Hodges said, LYN organizers will work with local pastors to meet with people and determine their needs.

In the fall, LYN and teams of community members will come together to address some specific goals and objectives in the community.

Hodges said LYN is developing a template for this kind of community work that can be taken and used in any city or community.

That ultimately, is the wish for those involved in LYN — that it will be an ongoing effort once the initial work projects are done. Hodges said the whole idea is for people in their communities to come together, work together and love one another, for the betterment of everyone.

“If we believe the words of Jesus Christ,” Hodges said, in the book of Matthew, there will be tough times ahead in this world, and people need to work now to come together, despite racial, political or denominational differences, to prepare together for those difficult days.

“The best way to prepare is for all our mayors, county commissioners, sheriff’s office and police departments to come together,” he said.

For Hodges, the difficult days of making a decision about the future are done. His 32 and a half years at TBN gave him many experiences that have made his life richer — from getting to know those local leaders he speaks of bringing together, to meeting with reknowned evangelist E.V. Hill of Los Angeles.

He said Hill came to the station and Hodges’ wife noticed the evangelist’s shoes were untied and mentioned it. Hill said he would tie them, but Hodges said his wife did that for him.

“She knelt down to tie his shoes and said ‘This is one of the greatest honors I’ve every had.’ It was so moving to see that,” Hodges said.

“I believe that God brings you to a place for a reason,” he said. He’s pleased that God’s plan will keep him in Gadsden, and allow him to remain involved with so many people he’s gotten to know and love.

“That enriches one’s life beyond words,” Hodges said.

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