The Pastoral Years
At the end of my 3 year military career, I began my preparation and work for the pastoral ministry.
Jerusalem University College
The first leg of my preparation was to attend what is now Jerusalem University College on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, Israel. I took a 3 week course on the geography of the holy land.
During these 3 weeks, we studied in classrooms and then traveled throughout the city and the country. It was a wonderful experience. Not only did I encounter places from biblical history, but I experienced several note-worthy items in modern history.
- I attended the first ever gathering of Holocaust survivors at the Western Wall.
- I heard Prime Minister Menachem Begin give a speech during an election season.
- I witnessed Jerusalem being lit by planes and flares all night after Israel jets bombed Saddam Hussein’s attempt at building a nuclear reactor in Iraq.
Oklahoma Baptist University
Upon returning to the United States, I began my studies in Shawnee, OK at Oklahoma Baptist University. At OBU I majored in Religion with a minor in history. I also quarterbacked a very good intramural flag football team.
Dr. Bob Agee became the president of the university while I was a student. His leadership impacted the university and my life in particular. I would often see him around the student dorms joining in on prayer meetings and encouraging the campus family to seek God with all of our beings. He would later preach in the church I led and treat my family with tremendous affection.
The professor to whom I am most indebted is Dr. Dale Soden. He was my history prof. He taught his students how to think.
I received the following awards while in school:
- Winner of the Orie Booze Religious Vocation Award
- Member of the Zeta Chi chapter of the Mortar Board National Honor Society
First Baptist Church, Red Rock (Oklahoma)
During my first semester at OBU, I became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Red Rock, Oklahoma. Red Rock was about a 90 mile drive to OBU. I lived with my family in Red Rock and commuted to Shawnee.
Red Rock was a farming community with plenty of wheat fields and cattle. My family and I loved the people in that area and in the church. Cameron began school in Red Rock while Leah was our little toddler.
I did not make much money, but our family ate as well as we ever did. It was here that I first learned what it meant to be pounded. Every so often after church, we would be invited into the back. There the tables were filled with great food items that were provided by the various families in our church. Wheat products, can goods and home-made BBQ sauce made by Mickey Ratliff were among the goods given to their pastor.
Various cattlemen would occasionally stop by the house with a giant bag of the best beef you have ever tasted. Good times.
Carlton was born in Ponca City during this time. Ponca City had the nearest hospital to Red Rock. He was our pudgy little kid that ate everything in sight.
I was pretty involved in the community and in the school. I preached and assisted two Native American churches for the Otoe and Ponca tribes. I taught as a substitute teacher and was president of the PTA. I scored 50 points in an upset win during the faculty vs. varsity basketball game.
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
In 1985 we moved to the Memphis area so that I could work on my Master of Divinity degree at MABTS. I had the privilege of studying under some great men. Dr. Richard Melick was my professor for Greek and a number of New Testament classes. Dr. Thomas Nettles continued fostering a love for history and theology.
Greenfield Baptist Church
After arriving in the Memphis area, we moved to Greenfield, Arkansas where I served for several years as pastor of Greenfield Baptist Church. Greenfield was basically a huge rice field with a small community of houses scattered throughout the fields. I can still remember the countless mosquitoes that swarmed and drilled into our blood vessels.
The baby of the family, Bethany was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1987. Jonesboro had the nearest hospital in the area. She was born with a congenital hip issue and was in a brace for much of her infant years. Jack, a deacon in the church, took to Bethany like she was his granddaughter.
West Rock Baptist Church
After graduating from MABTS with a Master of Divinity degree, we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to pastor what then was Nalls Memorial Baptist Church. This church had been a country church for most of her history, but the suburbs moved to it. We changed the name of the church to West Rock Baptist Church and transitioned the church from a country church to reach the people in our area.
I stayed at the church for about 7 years. This was such a special time in life. We had such loving and supportive people in the church. My cousin, Duane joined me in shepherding this flock. At one point my parents, my sister, and her family were all members.
I had the privilege of speaking in various churches and at various conferences during these years. We hosted a meeting of the North American Mission Board and trained leaders on leading a church through transition. I spoke in Guatemala and taught at the gathering of the European Baptist Convention in Interlaken, Switzerland. I also had the privilege of leading the Baptist Association of Little Rock churches during this time. Our biggest issue during this time was the ethical issues of President Bill Clinton, who was a member of one of the Baptist churches in the city.
Arkansas Baptist School System
I also taught at Arkansas Baptist High School and all 4 of the kids attended school. Cameron graduated here. I had the opportunity to be the Assistant Football Coach for the high school while Cameron played and the junior high while Carlton played. I also was the Assistant Baseball coach while Cameron played. ABHS was such a great school for our family.
The next post will pickup with my departure from Little Rock and relocation to Louisville, Kentucky in 1996.
- Autobiography (part 1): The Early Years
- Autobiography (part 2): Early Manhood – Years 16-21
- Autobiography (part 3): The Pastoral Years
- Autobiography (part 4): The Dark, Scarlet Letter Years
- Autobiography (part 5): The Winding Road Years
- Autobiography (part 6): Restored to Joy & Fellowship