“He’s one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet,” said Rand Bagwell, a friend of Towers. “He’s very sincere. It was amazing to listen to him when he was preaching and how much love you could feel in his voice. You could just tell how true his dedication was to serving God and his community.”
Towers, who is battling a malignant brain tumor, first joined the Canton First UMC staff 15 years ago, serving as the director of congregational care and later an associate pastor.
Julie Little, chairperson for staff parish relations, has worked with Towers professionally, but has also known him personally for more than 25 years.
“He is a loving, genuine, caring person,” she said. “He has been someone that we have gone to with our children. He’s given comfort during times when we’ve gone through difficulties and been a spiritual guidance.”
Ed and his wife, Sheila, have raised their daughter, Abby, in the church, alongside Little’s family.
“His family has been guests in our home a number of times,” Little said. “Our children are the same age. He has helped baptize our children and prayed over them.”
Little said he has touched the lives of nearly everyone through his service to the church.
“He has been an example of hope and courage through his illness and I think that has helped him minister others who are going through similar situations,” she said.
Towers said he didn’t realize how much of an effect he had on the community.
“I was constantly amazed at when I would do what I thought was something so little and it would stay with people,” he said.
The church, Towers said, has been an integral part of his life.
“They have blessed me incredibly,” he said. “It’s really been my whole life. I’ve been in that church since I was about 5 years old, and I’m 64 now. I’ve worked about every committee you can work.”
Some of those services included his work with the prayer ministry, Disciple Bible studies, Confirmation classes, Stephen ministry and nurture ministry among others.
“I’ve also served on the administrative board,” he said. “I’ve served on the staff parish. I taught Sunday School. Since starting at the church, I have seen it grow and grow.”
Little said Towers was an instrumental part of establishing the Canton First UMC Family Fund, which benefits those in need of gas and food vouchers and other assistance.
Because of his compassion to help those in need, the church decided to name the Family Fund in his honor.
According to a plaque dedicated to him, “In recognition of Pastor Ed Towers for 40 years of selfless service, sacrifice, compassion, and dedication to Canton First United Methodist Church and the community; his devotion to loving and serving others; and his faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ,” it read. “Therefore on this day May 18, 2014, the Canton First UMC Family Fund will now and forever be known as the Ed Towers Family Fund.”
Despite Tower’s illness, he said he is hopeful, thanks to the support of the church.
“I’ve already outlived the statistics,” he said. “I’ve just been trying to put one foot in front of the other each day and get through that way.”