October 2013

One milestone, three pastors

October 21 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Milestones are defined as significant historical markers in the life of an individual, organization or nation. They are points that should cause us to pause, recognize, celebrate and give thanks – such as a church’s 100-year anniversary, the celebration of a pastor’s long term of service and other meaningful accomplishments in Kingdom work.
The Biblical Recorder is pleased to learn about these special times and share them with our Baptist family. Two weeks ago I shared about a pastor who has served the same church for 58 years – a very rare accomplishment.
I learned about another unusual church milestone. On Oct. 6 Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia celebrated 50 years of ministry. Several unusual elements make this event worth noting. The church has only had three pastors during that time, all three are still in active ministry and one of them is 100 years young!

Parkwood Baptist Church photo
Jeff Long has been part of Parkwood Baptist Church’s 50 years of conservative leadership.

The church’s first two pastors, M.O. Owens Jr. and Ned L. Mathews preached in the 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services respectively as about 1,600 people gathered for the celebration. Owens, who served Parkwood from 1963 to 1980, turned 100 in September. As pastor emeritus, he still preaches in one of the church’s services every Sunday.
Ned Mathews shepherded the church from 1980-1999, and also serves as pastor emeritus. He has since taught at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor of pastoral ministries.
Jeff Long is the current pastor of Parkwood. He began his ministry there 21 years ago as the youth pastor. For 14 years he has served as senior pastor.
Long was deeply moved by the golden anniversary celebration. “It was a humbling and historic moment for the church ...,” he said. “It’s a moment I am not going to forget ... it was powerful for me ... the clarity of what those two men preached that day. It was a good day.”
But there is another significant ingredient about this scenario. All three men have been actively involved in the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the conservative direction of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). All three had important roles in the struggle for the future of the SBC and BSC.
Owens was a gentle, but determined writer and proponent of inerrancy. He launched a publishing company and spoke untiringly at events that challenged the theological drift of the SBC. He was the key figure in the launch of Conservative Carolina Baptists, the longest running conservative organization of the conservative resurgence. His role in Baptist life is inestimable.
Mathews never backed down from a discussion of scripture’s essential role. With a keen mind and passionate heart he has regularly preached and debated, holding high the value of scripture.
“Not only do these men have the rich history that has impacted and marked Parkwood for 50 years, but at the same time they have marked the Southern Baptist Convention in a significant and powerful way,” Long said. “These two men are historical figures beyond Parkwood...  They’re kingdom men. It’s an honor to serve after them and to be personally discipled by both of them.”
Long’s influence is not insignificant. He serves as a trustee of the International Mission Board. His courageous leadership as chairman of the Nominating Committee for BSC about 6 years ago has profoundly shaped the composition of today’s convention.
So, here are three pastors who had valuable roles in shaping the identity of the SBC and the BSC, and all have served the same church for half a century. I am thankful for these brothers and for others across N.C. who serve sacrificially with conviction and character.
10/21/2013 7:07:18 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

At the same church for 58 years

October 7 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In recognition of Pastor Appreciation Month, I am sharing some personal comments about pastors who faithfully serve our churches. Baptist pastors in North Carolina are a very diverse lot. Many carry labels like “old fashioned,” “contemporary,” “Calvinist,” “traditional,” “evangelical,” and “purpose driven.” They serve a wide variety of congregations.
One of the honors I have as the editor of your Biblical Recorder is the privilege of meeting many pastors across the state.
Recently I visited with pastor Wade Hampton Huntley. At 85 years young, he has served as pastor of Holly Springs Baptist Church in Rutherfordton for 58 years. That might be a record.
Last year we reported that Sherrill Wellborn retired from Lewis Fork Baptist Church after 41 years in the same pulpit. Next month V.C. Potter Jr. will celebrate 33 years at Town Creek Baptist Church in Leland. In a time when the average pastorate is less than 2 years, it would be interesting to learn how many pastors in N.C. have faithfully served the same church more than 25 years.

Maybe the long ministry of these faithful pastors has a message for us.
Without apology, Wade Huntley calls himself an “old fashioned, country preacher.” Holly Springs church is definitely rural.

BR photo by K. Allan Blume
Wade Huntley, 85, has been pastor of Holly Springs Baptist Church in Rutherfordton for 58 years.

The GPS may struggle to locate it. But, they have a broad ministry that includes a 32-bed senior adult center, a 10,000-watt radio station and stately facilities on 15 acres in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
The traditional attendance and offering board hangs on the wall, reporting 297 people in Sunday School last week. But the church averages almost 500 in worship.
A graduate of Fruitland, the energetic pastor told me about meeting Charles Stanley at a gathering of pastors.
Stanley commended Huntley for his long ministry. In his message to pastors the popular Atlanta preacher said, “You men better learn to be faithful to God wherever He puts you – in the country or city, little church or big church,” according to Huntley.
I asked, “What is the key to a long ministry?” Huntley said, “Keep the proclamation of the gospel in the middle and be sure you know for certain where God has put you. Don’t be looking for another church. Stay right there!
“You can’t just read somebody’s books or sermons. You better get with God,” he added.
Huntley has walked many difficult roads. He lost his father when he was 3 months old. His oldest brother, also a preacher, “was like a daddy to me,” he said. He proudly wears the Fruitland class ring his brother gave him on his death bed.
Huntley and his wife have each battled cancer. The church facilities burned to the ground in 1958 and they rebuilt.
The walls outside his office are laden with recognitions of milestones and men from the church’s 126-year history. A picture of the popular evangelist, Maze Jackson, hangs on the wall beside many others who have preached in the church. J. Harold Smith is one of Huntley’s favorites. Smith’s sermons are still broadcast daily on the church’s radio station, WWOL (Wonderful Words of Life).
A letter from President Ronald Reagan is prominent on the wall honoring the church’s 100th anniversary. A letter from President George W. Bush honoring the pastor’s 50 years in the ministry in 2005 is also on display.
Huntley said one of his best friends and fellow pastor Harold McKinnish preached his last sermon at the church in August and died a few days later.
I need to point out that I learned about Wade Huntley when McKinnish called me in July.
He wanted the Recorder to know about a pastor who has been faithful to God and the same church for 58 years. I am thankful for the call!
Let’s honor the godly pastors who are “... steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord ...” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
10/7/2013 6:32:56 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 1 comments