Dec. 2—MARIETTA — Ike Reighard, senior pastor of Piedmont Church and CEO of MUST Ministries, was named the Marietta Citizen of the Year Thursday by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
Reighard was surprised with the honor at the chamber's Marietta council luncheon following Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin's State of the City address.
As Tumlin announced Reighard as the Citizen of the Year, the pastor shook his head in disbelief.
Tumlin cited the famous New Testament verse, Matthew 25:35 — "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in," — to describe Reighard's service to the community.
"The citizen this year is the epitome of what the point of that Biblical passage is," Tumlin said.
Reighard joined MUST Ministries in 2011. The organization provides assistance to families and individuals in need, from food drives and fundraisers to the Hope House Emergency Shelter, which sleeps 136 residents.
After receiving a standing ovation, Reighard made his way to the front of the room and accepted the award from Tumlin and Andy Gaines, the 2022 Marietta Area Council director.
"I honestly thought I was here today to be able to give you the results of Gobble Jog," Reighard said, referencing the annual Thanksgiving Day road race which benefits MUST.
He noted there were 9,300 runners in this year's race, which raised $586,000 to provide food for local communities in need.
"Reighard has a heart for serving others in everything that he does, all without ever expecting anything in return," the Cobb Chamber said in a release Thursday. "His smile, faith and advantageousness make it impossible to not feel warmth, hope and inspiration when he is in the room."
Reighard kept it lighthearted during his acceptance speech, noting his granddaughter is a cheerleader for the junior varsity football team at Marietta High School.
"You have no idea how hard it's been for a preacher of 50 years to have to go and cheer for the devil every ballgame that's going on," Reighard said to a roomful of laughs. "I still say, 'Lord, I'm so sorry, but go Blue Devils!'"
Reighard said he thought the Citizen of the Year Awards had already all been given out in previous weeks.
"So to say that I am totally shocked today is an underestimate for sure," Reighard said.