Tom Paino is the first man I ever called Pastor. To this day, I still can’t call him Tom. It just doesn’t feel right. He’s Pastor Tom, a title of respect that forever belongs attached to his name.
His voice is as familiar to me as my own family. From the time I was a toddler playing with toys on the sanctuary floor during a Sunday night service (remember those?), to my years as a teenager and young adult passing notes to friends and leafing through the hymnals in the chair backs while he spoke, Pastor Tom’s preaching was slow-dripped into my soul like an IV.
There was one constant to this larger-than-life man’s weekly sermons – The Great Commission. Go into all the world and preach the Good News! It was on his lips, in his heart, and in the very architecture of our church building. Flags of the nations filled the parking lot, a giant globe sat atop the foyer fountain, a stone monument etched with the phrase “Touching our World with His Hands” stood proudly at the front entrance, and maps with missionary’s faces hung everywhere.
Pastor Tom is a legend. Truth be told, his imposing Italian aura scared the living daylights out of me until…well, sometimes it still does.
When he retired from the church to pursue full-time missions fundraising in the early 1990s, he was already partnered with our newly launched affordable housing company, Community Reinvestment Foundation. As a founding member of our board of directors, his organization ActioNow was tasked with deploying the missions funds we generated from the business. For more than two decades, CRF invested millions of dollars through ActioNow into missions work all over the world. It was a beautiful relationship.
When Tom came to me in 2015 (at age 91) and said it was finally time to hand-off the missions baton, my first response was “why, you’re most certainly going to outlive me!” We knew this day was coming, but attempting to pickup the mantle long worn by this giant of the faith was a bit of a daunting task.
That day ultimately led to the launch of The Stone Table and re-energized the original vision that started CRF a quarter of a century ago – the conviction that business and missions can and should go together. The “go into all the world and preach the good news” seeds God planted in our hearts over four decades under Pastor Tom’s leadership are now primed to continue blooming for many more seasons of harvest.
This week at age 94, Pastor Tom Paino officially resigned his seat on the board of Community Reinvestment Foundation. We enjoyed a great celebration of his Gospel legacy that continues to live on in our hearts. Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” That’s how we feel today.
Thank you Pastor Tom for your years of service to Community Reinvestment Foundation and ultimately to the work of The Stone Table. With God’s help, your impact on global missions will continue to be felt for generations to come. We plan to see to it.