Palmetto church to draw in 'unsung heroes' for community honors

MANATEE -- Led by Presiding Elder Ted Tillis and Deaconess Mary Tillis, every third Sunday of October, the House of God Church Keith Dominion in Palmetto finds a way to lure unwary "do-gooders" to the church to pay them tribute.

This Sunday at 3 p.m. marks the church's 14th Annual Community Honors Program and there will be eight honorees, four from Palmetto and four from Bradenton, drawn surreptitiously to the church at 123 17th St. E., Palmetto, said Mary Tillis.

"Shocked, thrilled, overjoyed, I have seen these reactions," Ted Tillis said. "They tell us they never thought anyone would recognize them for anything and that is why the crying comes out."

The honorees all have been nominated for doing good deeds in their community, including raking a yard or putting out an ailing neighbor's trash or making sure someone under the weather is eating regularly, among other acts of kindness, Mary Tillis said.

"Our honorees come from different Manatee County locales, but they all have in common the heart to serve their fellow man," Mary Tillis said.

She says she has spies in the community looking for these do-gooders.

"Mary knows just about everyone in Manatee County," Ted Tillis said. "Some people come up to us after the program and suggest a name for next the next year."

"I have lived in this community all my life, and when I hear people talking, I am listening for names to come up," Mary Tillis said.

Nine honoree were caught off guard last year including Pastor Rose Mobley, Evangelist Betty Sanders, Mrs. and the Rev. Neil McArthur, Emmeral Latimer, the Rev, Jasper Jackson, Faye L. Butler-Jones, Herbert Robinson and Anthony Love Sr.

"The families bring them or friends bring them telling them there is a program and they want them to come with them," Mary Tillis said

The church also adds to the intrigue by disguising the person's background in the honoree introduction speeches just enough to keep the drama at a high level until the name is called. Then, to a standing ovation, the honoree walks to the front to give a few words, Mary Tillis said.

The public is urged to attend the celebration, Tillis added.

The program always features a guest speaker and this year, back by popular demand, is Bishop Raymond Trice of Pathways Christian Fellowship Center.

"The bishop has a good message and everyone asks us to get him back," Mary Tillis said.

The motto of every Community Honors Program is "God's Anointed Hands for Helping Others," Mary Tillis said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or via Twitter@RichardDymond.