Man’s healing leads to start of alternative funeral home

As a funeral home director, David Singletary, of St. Amant, has plenty of professional experience with death.

But a decade ago that experience nearly became too personal.

Singletary was suffering from sarcoidosis, a potentially fatal inflammatory disease that mostly affected his lungs.

“There were a couple of times I almost died,” he said. “I said, ‘God if you’re ready to take me, I’m ready to go. But if there’s something that you want me to do here before I die, if you will heal and reveal to me what it is — no matter what it is — I will do for you.’ ”

Singletary, 57, said his body began the slow process of healing.

“I started feeling better,” he said. “Doors started opening and opportunities starting coming my way.”

Five years later he answered his call to start a “nontraditional” funeral home business that helps people and also gives him an opportunity to share his faith.

“I feel that I’m doing something from my heart that God has spoken to me to do for people to help them out at a particular time when they’re very vulnerable,” Singetary said.

Singletary, a member of Healing Place Church, said he doesn’t push his faith on people, but he can sense when families are believers and in need of a encouraging word from God.

“It makes the experience even better for me, because we can talk about the loved one being in heaven and that, yes, this is sad time and we’re the ones who are sad, but the person who is gone, they’re in a much better place,” he said.

“It’s not something that I try to use as a platform to preach to people,” Singetary said. “It’s not my gift. My gift is to help them at a time when no one else can help them but a funeral director and make sure I tried to give them as much as I can to make good, informed decisions.”

Singletary has been in and out of the funeral home business since getting his license in 1975. In 1998, he said he got sick and was on disability for 10 years.

In 2009, he started Church Funeral Services and Crematory in St. Amant. Singletary said the business, which also has an office in Baton Rouge, doesn’t have a funeral home of its own to hold services.

Instead, the business holds services at churches, halls and grave sides.

e_SDLqI was raised in church. I was baptized in church. I was married in church,” Singletary said. “It seems like a normal cycle of life for me that when I die that I would be taken back to the church as a complete journey of my life.”

‘Hope Realized’

After more than 50 years in ministry, the Rev. Sam Laine is still a firm believer in the power of hope.

Laine, a native of New Orleans, served as pastor of Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge from 1986 to 1997 before retiring to Collierville, Tenn. He is back in Baton Rouge through Monday in part to promote his self-published new book, “Hope Realized: Blessings and Opportunities Provide Pathways to a Hopeful Present and Future.”

“I wrote the book to help people realize hope along their human journey,” said Laine, who turns 80 on March 21.

Laine will speak briefly during the noon service on Sunday at Broadmoor Presbyterian, 9340 Florida Blvd, and sign books at a reception in his honor following the service in the church’s activities center. On Monday, Laine will host a discussion set for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Jones Creek Regional Branch, 6222 Jones Creek Road.

“Hope Realized” challenges the social mind-set of how people define themselves as human beings, Laine said. People need to be more positive and view life through blessings and opportunities — and maybe think of others for a change, he said.

“In our society, we try to realize ourselves or affirm ourselves through our ambitions, our acknowledgments, acquisitions, and power. I’m suggesting we reverse that and affirm ourselves and realize ourselves by caring for other human beings,” Laine said.

Laine compiled the 258-page book from articles he had written over 3½ years for a weekly newspaper in Tennessee.

“I was encouraged by my wife and others to share these articles with others,” he said.

Laine graduated from Tulane with a degree in chemical engineering. He served in the Army for two years and also received divinity degrees and doctor of divinity degrees. Laine served as pastor for churches in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana before retiring after more than 50 years in ministry.

Sharing the love

Loving people and doing what’s best for them is the heart of the evangelistic message, a conference speaker said Sunday.

‘The Lord commands us to love the Lord and love our neighbors as ourselves,” said the Rev. Joe McKeever, of New Orleans.

McKeever’s message concluded the one-day Evangelism Conference at Sherwood Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

The text of the message was taken from Luke 6:27-36, where Jesus encouraged his disciples to love their enemies or those who desired to do bad things against them.

“Jesus doesn’t tell us we have to like them,” McKeever said. “Like sort of implies approval that you and I are a lot alike.”

McKeever said the passage in Luke points out the four basic acts of love — doing good, blessing, praying and giving.

“When the Lord says to love your enemies, he’s not commanding you to feel anything,” McKeever said. “He’s not asking you to feel all gooey and affectionate toward them. He’s commanding you to do loving actions toward them.”

McKeever challenged the church to show the kind of love Jesus demonstrated from the cross when he asked God to forgive those who had wronged him. People in the community are “not going to come here and want to be saved until they see us loving the same way,” he said.

McKeever, a renowned cartoonist, pastored at least five churches in three states in nearly 50 years in ministry. He spent 14 years at First Baptist Church of Kenner and was director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans before retiring in 2009.

Sherwood Baptist Church at 1180 S. Flannery Road has been without a pastor since the Rev. David Womack retired in October. On Sunday, the church is set to vote on naming the Rev. Carter Dey as interim pastor.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can reached at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.