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Wayne Chasteen and Mary McKinley of Christ First Church (left) present a C1 Community Leadership Award to James and Kristy Mullis of Wallis-Wilbanks Funeral Home. (Contributed photo)

Christ First Church is honoring two local businesses that have exhibited extraordinary integrity by naming them the first recipients of its C1 Community Leadership Awards.

Presented for the first time this year, the award was created by the church to recognize businesses and community leaders that operate with a high moral standard and go above and beyond to treat their clients with respect.

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From left, Joseph Davidson, Jessica Chapman, Hank Chapman, Mary McKinley, Shelley Thornburgh and Wayne Chasteen pose at Hank's Tire and Service in Rock Spring. Chasteen and McKinley presented the business with a C1 Community Leadership Award on behalf of Christ First Church. (Contributed photo)

"We just wanted to let the community know that we're thankful for their work and what they're doing," said Wayne Chasteen, lead pastor at the Ringgold based church.

The two award recipients are Hank's Tires & Service in Rock Spring and Wallis-Wilbanks Funeral Home in LaFayette.

The businesses were chosen from a pool of eight nominees throughout Walker, Catoosa and Hamilton counties, and both honorees were presented with plaques to commemorate the achievement.

Chasteen said Hank's Tires & Service was nominated by multiple church members because its owners, Hank and Jessica Chapman, are "hardworking and trustworthy."

"I've worked with a lot of mechanics over the years, and his integrity is above any I've ever know," Chasteen said of Hank Chapman. "He goes way beyond the norm to make sure that you're covered and taken care of."

The pastor also bestowed similar praise upon Jessica Chapman, who handles most of the communication with clients and shuttles many to their places of work and back if they don't have another mode of transportation.

"This is not warranty work, like at Nissan or Ford, so they don't have to provide automobiles," said Chasteen. "It's just things that the ordinary auto center doesn't necessarily do, in addition to the fact that they are just great mechanics and do the work right the first time."

Wallis-Wilbanks Funeral Home was chosen for the award because of the dignity and respect its owners, James and Kristy Mullis, show to community members who utilize its services.

The funeral home was nominated by Kyley Barton, a church member who was touched by the Mullises' warmth when her father passed away earlier this year. In addition to being in awe of the way they "treat people like people," Barton said Kristy Mullis helped her mother with financial matters that were outside the realm of Mullis' responsibilities.

" It's clear that they see what they do not just as a job, but a ministry," Barton wrote in her nomination letter. "They have a difficult job and encounter people when they are usually not at their best. This doesn't keep them from treating everyone with compassion."

Chasteen said the church decided to create the annual award in order to connect and build rapport with the community.

Though the qualifications for selection reflect Christian values, the pastor stressed that the award is not limited to those of faith.

"We have intentionally not made this a 'Christian' award because we want to connect with the entire community," he said. "We never ask if they're Christians or if they go to church or anything like that. We just want to recognize people that live out their life in such as way."

Next year, the church will present three awards instead of two, with the third going toward a local government or city leader who exemplifies the award's predetermined qualities.

Christ First Church will begin accepting nominations for next year's award starting in May. Anyone in the community will be able to suggest a nominee by visiting christfirstga.org or connecting with the church through Facebook.

Email Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com.

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