RIDGE MANOR — With an early Easter this year, Jackie Rupert thinks it's appropriate that Jerry Goff will speak Sunday at Ridge Manor United Methodist Church.
Goff's topic: Christ's burial and resurrection.
"I hadn't thought about it being close to Easter until last week when it was Ash Wednesday," said Rupert, who invited Goff and his wife to the church. "Then I thought, wow, this is neat. We had just picked a date when they were able to come."
Billed as Dr. Jerry Goff and Little Jan Buckner-Goff, the Goffs have been performing together since they married seven years ago. Before that, each enjoyed a long and distinguished career in gospel music.
Rupert, who along with her husband, Don, has known Jerry Goff for about 50 years, and has socialized with him for the past 15, said she was anxious to have Goff present his talk on the number of days Jesus spent in the tomb.
"It's a 45-minute talk that he calls 'Time' that explains how it is that Jesus spent three days in the tomb, even though he didn't get in there until late Friday afternoon and was gone Sunday morning," Rupert said. "I heard Jerry give the talk and really liked it. It explained a lot. I told him I didn't understand until he spoke on it."
Rupert, who was attending Spring Lake United Methodist Church, began playing the piano at the Ridge Manor church to fill in when that church's pianist left nine years ago. She has attended both churches ever since.
"I told Jerry that I go to a little church (Ridge Manor) that averages about 50, and I'd love to have them hear his talk," Rupert said. "I asked if sometime when he was in Florida if he could do that, and he said he would."
Rupert said the Goffs will appear as a gift. No offering will be collected for them.
The Goffs will also sing before and after the message.
Rupert said Jerry Goff is her husband's "favorite singer in the world." She also thinks Jan Buckner-Goff is "gorgeous" and looks much too young to be a great-grandmother.
"They've both written so much music, and they've been all around, including singing individually at Carnegie Hall and touring Europe," Rupert said. "Jan has a really good song called In My Father's House that I'm going to ask them to sing."
Known as "Mr. Gospel Trumpet," Jerry Goff has written and recorded many hits, including Please Search the Book Again and Tear Stains in the Sand. He is a Dove Award and People's Choice Award winner and is one of the founders of the Gospel Music Association. A professor of church history and New Testament documents at Christian Life College, he has authored several books and speaks regularly at crusades and performs numerous concerts each year. He was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
Little Jan Buckner performed for many years with Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters. After Bagwell, who had been like a father to her, died in 1996, Buckner began a solo career.
Also a member of the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame, Buckner won a Grammy Award for her song Tell It Again. She also has won awards for her voice, her albums and even for a television commercial. She is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The couple has released an album together called New Love.
Rupert said Jerry Goff is a marvelous speaker.
"He makes everything seem so logical and yet so interesting," she said. "He's not a drone, and he doesn't read his message. He's so enthusiastic."
Rupert hopes the folks at Ridge Manor United Methodist will be blessed by Goff's message.
"I hope it will give them more insight and more of a desire to study the Bible," she said.
Local gospel music lovers will have an opportunity to hear the Goffs perform many of their songs when, for the third consecutive year, they join the Sunny South Ministries in concert this evening.
The two-hour concert will begin at 6 p.m. at Gulf Ridge Park Baptist Church in Brooksville. An offering will be collected.