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August-September 2018


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Serving in Harmony

By Bill and Brenda Evans


Waymon and Gail Fields feel harmony in their bones. They can stack notes vertically on a music staff to make chords or sing them intuitively from their souls. Either way, their close harmony “says something,” as Waymon put it. Music may start with notes on a page, but it ends with words from the Lord. “Ours is a ministry. We have a message to give,” Waymon said.

Music brought Waymon and Gail together more than 60 years ago. He has sung for as long as he can remember. She was brought up harmonizing with her family’s voices accompanied by fiddles, guitars, French harps, an accordion, and a piano. Her father led shaped-note singing schools, and after Waymon was saved at age 14 in Millport, Alabama, he went to every shaped-note singing school he heard about, including his future father-in-law’s. He and Gail married in 1957.

Simple harmony comes easy. Just sing notes a third above or a third below the melody notes. But simple and easy were not for Waymon. He was hungry to learn more. In high school, his Future Farmers of America quartet won the Alabama state competition, then the Tri-State Alabama, Georgia, and Florida competition. Later, he joined the McAdams Quartet and their 30-minute live television show in Columbus, Mississippi. He attended the Stamps-Baxter Singing School there as well, for voice lessons, chord building, and songwriting. In 1959, Waymon, Gail, and her sister formed a trio.

When their children, two girls and a boy, came along, as Waymon said, “They never knew anything but singing harmony with us. I did baritone or bass. Gail sang alto. We started our oldest daughter on harmony at age six, the other two at age three. Now they sing any part you want them to. The two girls are exceptional pianists, too.” Waymon arranges their songs and manages the group. As for song-writing, he quips, “I wrote one song a long time ago, but it never came out of the closet.”

Now in their early 80s, the Fields sing with family members in The Singing Bryants. Along the way, the Fields have formed county-wide choirs, musical groups of many kinds, and ministered to thousands with their music.

But what strikes you most about Waymon and Gail is not their close harmony in music. It’s their commitment to an all-of-life harmony that communicates the gospel of Jesus Christ. They practice how to please the Lord and serve others. “Ministry is the bottom line,” Waymon said.
He is a deacon at Macedonia FWB Church where he has taught and led music. Gail still teaches and prays for her young students, especially for a young man now in college who came to the Lord at age eight. “I always include the salvation plan. He lived near the church, and one day he got off his bicycle so Waymon could show him how to get saved. He accepted the Lord right then and there, got back on his bicycle, and rode on. He is such a fine young man.”

“I’ve had a lot of chances to make a difference,” Waymon said. “When I was young, I worked at a grocery store where the owner sold beer. I’d pack it up and take it to people’s cars. I got miserable about that and asked the Lord to get me out of there, and I’d never do that again. I went from there to a men’s clothing store then started at the bottom as a teller in a bank. The Lord blessed me for that early decision.”

Waymon began at the bank in 1959 and retired in 2003. He moved from teller to manager to president, chairman of the board, and owner over those 44 years. “I’ve always believed I had success because of the standard I set as a package boy in that grocery store when I was young. God honored my commitment,” he said.

In the early days as a teller, Waymon posted the general ledger by hand—no computers. Later, he learned accounting on the job, and still later how to manage a bank when the owners opened a branch and put him in charge. In 1970, when the bank’s president died as the result of a brain tumor, the owners made him president in Millport, or as Waymon put it: “They let me step up.”

That’s when he learned how to make investments on the job, as he had learned all the other skills.
Eventually, Waymon put together investors to buy out the owners. “If you think the Lord doesn’t work things out, well, he does,” he says. “When we made the deal, and I signed the contract, I was scared. My part was huge. I had committed myself to a bunch of six figures and had almost nothing to pay that debt with.”

Later, Waymon and the other investors formed a holding company but took no dividends for themselves. In a few years, those dividends paid off the debt. By 1976, Waymon was president and chairman of the board.

“I had a good board of directors,” he says. “I wanted to expand into Tuscaloosa, so I took the board down there to talk to two or three banks who’d done that. They came back ready to expand. So we did.”

During the Carter administration in the early 1980s, Waymon learned more about cash flow management and keeping a spread. “Prime rate was 21%, but we had mortgages on the books at 8% and were paying 14.5% on CDs. I told the board we needed to drop CDs to 12%, and within two weeks all the banks around here had done the same. Later, I was the first bank in Alabama to offer ARMs, Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Pretty soon everybody was.”

Along the way, Waymon became mayor of his hometown as well. “Our mayor at the time knew nothing about money, so our city government owed millions. We were about to sink. Two months after I was elected, I had to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy for our municipality. In seven years, we paid most of it back and had positive cash flow,” he says. While mayor, he also brought in several new businesses and the West Alabama Service Club.

“I’ve said that when I was a banker, my hair turned gray; and when I was mayor, it turned loose. I just wanted to be a servant—do something for someone other than myself. Gail was my backbone through all of that.” Waymon said.

Serving is their style. “At the bank, Waymon took time with people. I remember a man, almost blind and really poor. Waymon taught him how to budget so he could get by. Lots of times, he took money out of his pocket to loan to people when they couldn’t qualify for anything from the bank.”
Waymon’s work with the bank, along with his years as mayor of his hometown, prepared him for serving denominational state and national boards. For more than 30 years, he has been on the board of the Alabama Children’s Home, and over a 15-year period served the National Association on the Board of Retirement and Free Will Baptist Foundation. He finished up his 12th year on the Foundation Board this past summer.

“Being on those boards has been a privilege. I didn’t grow up with a ‘silver spoon,’ so I know what kind of life many people have. I’ve tried to contribute what I can and what I know to make things better for others,” Waymon said.

When asked what guided him as he’s served on state and national boards, he said, “My philosophy has come from Ecclesiastes: Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with thy might. It was never in me to do only what I could to just get by. One of the highlights of my life has been to serve. Like in banking, you give good service, you meet people’s needs, and you leave it better for someone else.”

Waymon and Gail are in perfect harmony on that.

About the Writers: Bill and Brenda Evans live in Ashland, Kentucky. Bill is the former director of the Free Will Baptist Foundation and Brenda is a retired English teacher. Visit for more information on planned giving that benefits your favorite ministry.



©2018 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists