Woodland Baptist is mourning the loss of a selfless man.
The Rev. Alan Keith Martin, 53, last led a service at Woodland Baptist Church on July 4.
He did that despite being terminally ill with cancer, a disease which he had fought for several years.
"Why sit around the house when I could be out there serving the Lord?" is how the Rev. Banks Corl remembered his friend and colleague who died July 15 with his family at his side.
The Rev. Martin served as associate pastor of worship arts -- music, drama and media -- for the more than 2,500 members of Woodland Baptist, 9607 State Road 70 E., for more than six years.
He was a warm-hearted, caring and outgoing man who "loved to worship the Lord," Corl said.
"The choir looked forward to the devotionals he would bring each week. That was as big as practicing the music," Corl said.
Rev. Martin hired Andy Botts right out of college in 2007 to serve as associate pastor of worship at Woodland.
"Completely selfless," said Botts in describing his mentor. "He cared more about people than he did himself. He was absolutely the kindest man I ever met. He loved his family, friends and the church."
It's a sad time at Woodland, said Botts.
"But it has brought us closer together as a congregation. It made people realize we were not just staff and coworkers but we're a family. Keith was like my second dad," Botts said.
The end came swiftly for the Rev. Martin. His wife, Lee Ann, a graphics and communications specialist for the church, kept the congregation informed of his final days through her blog.
"I have been such a blessed woman to be able to walk with him for these 30 years," she said on her blog.
Rev. Martin was born May 5, 1958, in Montgomery, Ala.
He served for more than 31 years as a worship pastor for churches in Texas, Oklahoma,Alabama,Indiana and, for the past six years, at Woodland Baptist, also known as Woodland -- The Community Church.
Last Sunday, for the last chorus of the last song, the choir leader stepped away to allow the spotlight to fall on a solitary microphone, symbolic of the missing minister.
"It was very moving," Corl said. "How do you stand and choke back the tears? But we did."
In addition to his wife, Lee Ann, the Rev. Martin is survived by two children, Joshua, who recently joined Woodland as a children's ministry associate, and Bethany, a pre-med student at Auburn University.
Visitation will be 6-9 p.m. Thursday and the worship celebration will be at 11 a.m. Friday, both at Woodland.
The worship service will be streamed via www.woodlandlive.com.
Members of the congregation are looking forward to the celebration of the Rev. Martin's life, Corl said.
His death "leaves a big vacancy. We're confident that God will fill it," Corl added.
A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Montgomery, Ala.
The Rev. Tim Passmore, senior pastor of Woodland Baptist, and the Rev. Paul Strozier of Columbus, Ohio, will co-officiate.
Flowers may be sent to Woodland Church and donations may be made to The Navajo Mission Fund, c/o Woodland.
Published in The Bradenton Herald from July 19 to Aug. 19, 2011