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Tom and Ella Mae Hermiz

Former President and Retired Support Staff
"We Were Thrilled to Be a Part of the Mission"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, September 2016

Former president Tom Hermiz and his wife, retired support staff member Ella Mae, look back at their years serving with World Gospel Mission as some of the richest years of their lives. 

“Some of the highest highlights of my life were during those 22 years at WGM,” shared Tom, who served as president from 1979 to 2001. “When I arrived, WGM had never had an income of over $1 million in a year and it had 150 missionaries. By the time we left, the annual income was over $26 million with over 300 missionaries serving God around the world.”

Tom has been involved in full-time Christian service since 1960. His father was a pastor, and while Tom’s mother was pregnant with him, she received a word from the Lord that she was carrying a son and that he would preach the gospel. “As a kid, all my heroes were preachers,” Tom said, laughing as he described climbing up a box on his front porch and “preaching” to people on the street outside their home in Endicott, New York. Although as a teen he walked away from his faith, he recommitted his life to Christ at the age of 18, accepting God’s call to the pastorate. 

The day he accepted the Lord, he met Ella Mae, who was at the same camp meeting in New York. She encouraged him to go to Bible college to get grounded in his faith. Tom, who had fallen in love with her almost immediately, changed his college plans and began attending Circleville Bible College (Ohio). They began to date and were married in 1957. 

Tom served in two pastorates and taught church administration at CBC. In the late 1960s, Tom and Ella Mae explored missionary service with WGM to Lebanon. “My father was Assyrian from Iraq, so there was a natural affinity to the Middle East.” However, that work was closed and they never again felt impressed to serve in that capacity. 

Still, in all his pastorates, Tom made missions a priority. In the late 1970s, Dr. Hollis Abbott, then president of WGM, asked Tom to consider becoming the next president. “Well, I had been looking forward to doing evangelistic work, and it took me a number of months to get to the point where I sensed this was the leading of the Lord. And we had 22 wonderful years there,” said Tom. 

In addition to providing leadership to WGM, Tom served as president of the Christian Holiness Association at various times and as a board member of several Christian organizations and colleges. He also preached all over the nation and the world. An avid musician, Tom recorded several vocal and instrumental albums. Ella Mae served as Tom’s secretary, WGM hostess, and managed the WGM Boutique and Clothes Closet.

Tom currently serves as the general superintendent of Churches of Christ in Christian Union based in Circleville, Ohio. Tom and Ella Mae have three grown children (one daughter is deceased), seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. 

“Seeing our grandchildren go into ministry is one of the most rewarding things of my life,” said Tom. “They love Jesus and serve the Lord.”

This legacy of commitment to the cause of Christ stretches back to 1915, when Tom’s grandmother and great-grandparents were martyred in Turkey during the Armenian Genocide. Tom’s father survived and was smuggled, by his uncle, out of Turkey at the age of 9 to the United States. 

“Now, we have several generations of missionaries and ministers. It’s an incredible heritage for which I am so grateful,” said Tom. 

Over their almost 60 years of combined Christian service, Tom and Ella Mae have witnessed the great faithfulness of God during times of hardship and grief as well as moments of victory.

“Through all the tough times, I have learned God is faithful. Years ago, I mentally believed this, but now I’ve experienced that to be true over these decades. He never fails us and never lets us down. His grace is all-sufficient.”

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