Pastor Finds Creative Outlet in Painting
By Carl Stagner
The person in the pew may not always know it, but most pastors have hobbies and interests besides preaching and prayer. A teaching pastor and evangelist at Cedar Creek Church of God in Greeneville, Tennessee, is a prime example. Of course, he spends much time in prayer and study, but painting is another therapeutic practice he’s discovered that does far more than pass the time. Hundreds of completed canvases later, Charlie Heater continues to exercise his creativity, inspire his imagination, and bless others through his artistic abilities.
“I had always liked art and secretly had a desire to paint,” Charlie confesses. “I had not even told my wife. However, a number of years ago, my wife Debbie gave me the supplies and arranged for me to take six classes. From then on, I just continued to paint.”
While Charlie’s approach to landscapes may not be unique, that which he paints has proved widely variable, capturing the attention of family and friends locally and across the country. Upon the suggestion of his wife, he’s moved beyond the traditional canvas to kitchen pans and skillets, LP records, plates, platters, boards, mirrors, saw blades, glass bricks, old tools, and even cowbells.
“I feel all pastors and others need a diversion,” Charlie explains. “This is my diversion. During the time I am painting, usually landscapes, I am in that place. Sometimes it’s a memory, sometimes a picture, and sometimes it’s just in my mind. Whatever it is, I have to be in that place completely for that time period. Many times, I am amazed as I stand back and look at what my hand has done. I thank God for his many blessings and that I can do nothing without him.”
Charlie Heater has kept some paintings, sold several works of art, and has even been “commissioned” by friends to complete specific projects. Through social media posts, word has spread rapidly concerning this “painting pastor.”
“I will add that I am seldom pleased with a painting immediately after finishing,” Charlie admits. “I have to get away from it for a while before I can appreciate it.”
Over several decades, Charlie Heater has been a sought-after speaker and evangelist for camp meetings, revivals, and conferences across the Church of God. A few years ago, he was called to serve as interim pastor for Cedar Creek Church of God. After a couple years, the congregation called Sam Chaffin to serve as senior pastor. But Charlie didn’t depart the congregation; Pastor Sam asked him to stick around through the transition and serve as teaching pastor.
“He is doing a great job, and it is a privilege to be there,” Charlie reflects. “Sam and the congregation seem to be made for one another. It’s exciting to be there as new things are being done and new ministries are starting. Pastor Sam’s preaching is amazing, and the services are exciting. We have new people visiting almost every Sunday, and many are staying.”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) collage: Charlie Heater holds one of his paintings (credit: David June); painting on a plate.