On Nov. 18, President Beck Taylor and his wife, Julie Taylor, interviewed Mechelle and Thomas Wilder to discuss balancing marriage and professional life as part of the “For the Good” lecture series organized by the Mann Center.
Mechelle serves on the Samford Board of Trustees and is a founding partner of ARC Realty. She graduated from Samford with a degree in communications and marketing in 1983.
Thomas has been pastor at the Bethel Baptist Church of Collegeville for 33 years. The church holds the title of most bombed church in the country. Thomas is also currently pursuing his doctorate at Samford’s Beeson Divinity School.
“A few years ago the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership began a convocation series known as ‘For the Good,’ featuring interviews by Samford’s president with individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to personal integrity and servant leadership,” Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Phil Kimrey explained in an email sent to the Samford Community.
The goal of the series is to explore Christian leadership by interviewing individuals who excel both professionally and spiritually. The Wilders both exemplify professionalism and Christian leadership, and they were also able to speak to navigating the balance between professional and home life.
The couple met on a blind date when they were both in college.
“Tom is about four years older than I am and I was a sophomore then. And I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me on the blind date,” Mechelle said, describing the first time she met her husband.
Despite their initial hesitation, they eventually bonded over Bible study and Thomas proposed when Mechelle was in her senior year.
“I just knew IBM had offered me a job and I was going to take the world by storm,” Mechelle said.
She denied his proposal twice before agreeing to marry him at the age of 22.
“At 22, I get this fantastic job with IBM. I’m making all this money. I am travelling. I am making the 100% club,” Mechelle said. “We’re pregnant with our first child. I’m mopping the floor. God speaks to my heart and says, ‘Don’t you think I can take care of you?’”
Mechelle became a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years, while Thomas balanced a career as a recruiter for an engineering company alongside his ministry.
“Mechelle helped a lot because I didn’t have to worry about how my family was doing. She was there with the kids and was taking care of everything,” he said.
Thomas was later able to become a full time minister at Bethel, but he expressed that even when he was part time, he still took it just as seriously.
“I always gave full-time effort,” he said. “In 33 years of ministry I’ve missed one Sunday due to illness.”
The Wilders also briefly discussed racial reconciliation in the Birmingham community.
“The reality is, the law was not on their side for a lot of brown and black people,” Mechelle said. “We can’t act like these things didn’t happen because they did and they’re affecting generations.”