His calm, humble, gentle nature is just what’s needed for the various hats he wears. No matter which role he’s filling at any moment, though, it’s all part of his ministry and calling.
The Rev. Craig Tremble, pastor of Second Saint John Missionary Baptist Church and owner of Craig R. Tremble Funeral Home, with locations in Statesboro and Pembroke, says those positions are his two full-time jobs. Additionally, Tremble serves as deputy coroner for Bulloch County and is one of the chaplains with the Statesboro Police Department.
Tremble recognized his calling early, he said, and was serving in ministry and working at Small’s Funeral Home in Guyton, Georgia, while he was still a student at Southeast Bulloch High School.
“I felt called at the age of 16,” Tremble said. “I had a passion and desire to help families during one of the most upsetting times in their lives.”
Tremble later transferred jobs to James R. Barnes Mortuary in Statesboro and worked there for several years before going into business on his own.
“Working at Barnes gave me a great wealth of knowledge,” he said.
Born and raised on a farm near Leefield, Georgia, Tremble attended Miller Grove Missionary Baptist Church as a child.
“I grew up in that church and received a lot of ministerial training there under my late pastor,” he said. “My parents and family were devout Christians and loved the Lord. My mother and father kept the family in church.”
Foundation of the church
That foundation certainly made an impact, and Tremble was serving the Lord and others as a teen. After graduating high school, he attended Brewton-Parker College and Georgia Southern University.
“I was trying to find my way,” he said. “Pastoring and funeral service work were always my passion, but I knew I needed further education.
“I eventually went to Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Atlanta and finished my career in funeral services in 1992,” he said.
Tremble met his wife, Yolanda, through one of his cousins while she was a student at Georgia Southern, and the two have been married since 1993. Sons Jordan and Brandon are 20 and 26, respectively.
Tremble has spent 33 years in ministry, with the last 22 of those at Second Saint John. Before that, he served as pastor of Hagan Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.
He opened his Statesboro funeral home in 2001, followed by a second funeral home in Pembroke in 2008. Tremble believes funeral service work is like a ministry and says grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult times a person will experience.
Though he’d had much experience in the profession by the time he opened his own funeral home, Tremble had a unique opportunity just days after officially opening in Statesboro.
“I was approved by the state on a Tuesday, and Wednesday night, my grandmother passed away,” he said. “The first person I had to bury was my mother’s mother.”
He expressed great grief during that time, but he said, “I’m glad we were in a position to serve the family this way.”
Tremble admits the gravity of the different positions he holds and acknowledges the similarities in both of his “full-time” careers.
“People that I serve in my congregation and the people you work with in funeral services, both sets of people go through a lot,” he said. “Bereavement can be very traumatic.”
When asked how he handles those difficulties, he said, “A devoted prayer life and a strong faith helps in dealing with both ministries.”
Tremble said his on-call positions of deputy coroner and SPD chaplain have resulted in some difficult conversations as well.
“It’s a challenge to call someone and inform them that their loved one has passed,” he said.
Some of those conversations take place during the middle of the night; some are by phone, others are in person.
“Family that stays out of town, you have to call, and I usually ask if they are sitting down and if someone is with them,” he said. “It’s a difficult phone call to make.”
It takes a special person to do the jobs Tremble does, and he does them well. He credits his heart for serving his community to his upbringing.
“It’s how I was raised. Out in the country, on the farm — my mother and father were givers. When there was a death or sickness, they were always willing to help,” he said. “My father raised cows and hogs, and he would give meat to people in the community. He had a connection to people. And it didn’t matter what race. My father got along with everybody.
“My parents raised me on the foundation of being centered and keyed in on God as our provider and if there were problems, he would give us a solution.”
Tremble has continued to lean on God throughout his time of serving others in his various roles and has often been the rock that his congregation, members of the community and even some beyond county borders have leaned on in their time of need, too.