Dr. Emir Caner, President of TMU, addresses the crowd during yesterday’s gate ceremony.

This month, Truett McConnell University (TMU) installed the Headrick Gate over the front entrance of the university. This steel archway, which stands 25½ feet tall, spans 64 feet, and is constructed of ½ inch thick steel letters, was welded by Headrick Signs & Graphics, a company based in Laurel, Mississippi.

On Thursday afternoon, March 24, TMU dedicated the new gate to Richard Headrick, who passed away in October 2020 and left a legacy of leading many to Jesus Christ. Notable guests in attendance included many who had a significant role in the construction process–John and Melissa Rebry who created the design of the gate and Robert Lowery who managed the project.

Dr. Emir Caner, President of TMU, welcomed guests to the dedication ceremony by saying, “If you knew Richard Headrick, you knew a soul winner, a man who came to Christ in 1989 and spent the rest of his life sharing Jesus.” He added, “It’s an honor to honor Richard Headrick with the gate because he honored Jesus with his life.”

A life of ministry

Many at TMU remember Headrick who brought his “Bum” ministry to a chapel service several years ago, as he did to many churches across America. He and his wife, Gina, came on campus dressed as a homeless couple to see how our students would react, and then surprised them all by stepping up to the pulpit to preach a sermon about Christian kindness.

Hurting people were close to Headrick’s heart, which is why he founded Hellfighters International, a ministry with four different branches that reaches out to people from all different walks of life with the Gospel. One of these branches, Mission at the Cross, helps former convicts, those facing homelessness, and people who struggle with addiction, transform their lives through 6-month and 12-month programs.

Dr. Paige Patterson, who knew Headrick personally, said at Thursday’s dedication ceremony that there was nothing more appropriate than a gate to dedicate to Headrick, who saw every adventure in his life as a gateway to present the Gospel. Patterson urged the audience, “When you see that gate, I want it to be a clarion call to you to become the gateway yourself that is the cause of other men and women coming to Christ.”

A gateway to many

Gina Headrick, who traveled from Laurel, MS, to attend the ceremony, shared with those in attendance, “Richard did really use everything as an opportunity to share the Gospel. He himself was a gateway. People were drawn to him. He was so unique and so special and so charismatic. But his main goal in life was to make sure that everybody knew Jesus and came to a saving knowledge of Jesus.”

At the end of the ceremony, Caner presented Gina Headrick with a plaque that will be inlaid into the brick under the gate. The plaque bears the following inscription: “The Headrick Gate, dedicated to remembering Richard Headrick, a man who faithfully shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. Richard devoted his life to loving the Lord and loving people, helping thousands of men struggling with addiction find hope in Jesus.”

With gratitude, Mrs. Headrick thanked the university for dedicating the gate to her husband, saying, “This is so symbolic for his life.”


Anna is a Truett McConnell senior English major and content writer for TMU’s Marketing and Communications.

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