1958 — The Life of a Young Pastor

Pictured below is the first page (of six) of my sermon notes for August 17, 1958. This was a very special day for the Cherry Street Chapel (in Windsor, Mo.), as it had been known until then: it was the first day in the new church building that we had worked on for many months.

This was a small congregation started as the “branch Sunday School” of First Baptist Church in Windsor, where I had been called to serve as youth pastor during the summer of 1956. This was the summer after my first year at Southwest Baptist University when it was still a junior college (SWBC). That November I was called to be pastor of what was now considered the “mission church” of FBC, and a small building was rented for the Sunday services. It was on Cherry Street, a dead-end street on the edge of town.

During the rest of my time at SWBC, I drove to Windsor every Saturday, preached twice on Sunday, and drove back to Bolivar after the Sunday evening services.

In May 1957, June and I graduated from SWBC and married the same month, and our first home was in a little rented house. I was also ordained in that same “merry month of May.” That fall we matriculated as students in William Jewell College and began the same pattern of driving to Windsor on Saturdays, spending the afternoons doing visitation for the church. After preaching on Sunday morning and evening, we would then drive back to Liberty.

In the fall of 1957 the men in the church, mainly Roy Hix, began renovating an old partially finished building for Cherry Street Mission to use as their own church building. Throughout the many months that work was going on I would sometimes help with the manual labor needed in the building project.

From the spring of 1958, however, June began staying home more and more on the weekends instead of going with me to Windsor. She had a good reason. In addition to being a full-time student–and doing her practice teaching–she was also expecting our first child.

Our first service in the new church building was on Sunday, August 17. That just happened to be two days after the birth of our wonderful baby boy whom we named Keith Leroy. In spite of being at the hospital all night on the 14th for Keith’s birth, which was about 8:30 on Friday, the 15th–which was my 20th birthday–I had pastoral responsibilities on the weekend. So I left about noon on Saturday and drove to Windsor.

As far as I can remember, everything (including my sermons) went well at Windsor on that Sunday morning. But I was happy to get home late that Sunday night and even happier to get to the hospital the next morning to see June and our new son.