"Call him John Ed," his wife tells me. "Everybody does." And by everybody, she means everybody. All of Montgomery and half of Alabama is on a first-name basis with John Ed. After 30 years as senior minister at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church, John Ed has become the city's pastor.
"One elderly man came up to us just last night and started referring to John Ed as 'my pastor.' He'd never been to Frazer, but watched every week on television," said Lynn Mathison, his wife of four years.
Lynn is a southern belle in sandals. With her presence and easy grace, she might have been Miss Montgomery. She is John Ed's second wife. His first, Joan, died of cancer in 1995. Lynn and John Ed host a daily devotional program on TV.
But despite the notoriety, John Ed seems unaffected by it all. Most everybody who enters the church's new athletic complex he calls by name, and most of them come over to shake hands or hug him. In this setting, John Ed seems much like a small church pastor in a small town. ...1