I started reading the Western Recorder on a regular basis as a young pastor. For me, it was something on which I could depend. As a pastor in far eastern Kentucky at the time, it introduced me to other Baptists around the state and to the work of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
As I reflect, I realize that the Western Recorder played a key role throughout my ministry. Here are four ways that God used the Western Recorder in my life …
1. The Western Recorder introduced me to other Kentucky Baptists. When I became pastor of FBC Belfry in 1990, I got involved in the Pike Association. I met local pastors and church members, but I didn’t know others around the state. Each week I read about other churches and ministers in the Western Recorder.
Little did I know then that I would be working alongside many of them in the years to come. I attended trainings, conferences and statewide meetings after learning about them in the Western Recorder. Honestly, the Western Recorder was my lifeline to KBC work at the time.
2. The Western Recorder broadened my thinking. I have always been very conservative in my theological perspectives. Occasionally I read opinions in the Western Recorder that differed from mine. Although they rarely changed my way of thinking, they usually broadened my perspective.
In my current role, I work with men and women around the state who have different opinions on matters, but we agree on the importance of cooperation. The Western Recorder played a significant role in helping me to be accepting of others when we are not fully in agreement.
3. The Western Recorder connected me to a ministry assignment. Late in my ministry at FBC Belfry, I began to sense that God was going to give me a new ministry assignment. I prayed about the matter on a regular basis, trying to discover God’s will.
One day, I saw an ad in the Western Recorder from the Williamstown Baptist Church in Grant County, Ky. I knew nothing about the church or the area, but I became intrigued. Eventually, I felt led to submit a resume and, after a few months, I became their pastor. We loved our time in Williamstown and made many lifelong friends.
I vividly remember grinding up the last hill on the Mountain Parkway in the U-Haul truck. I wept thinking that I might never serve in eastern Kentucky again, but God has been so gracious to allow me to serve in eastern Kentucky on a regular basis, in my KBC role. To Him be praise.
4. The Western Recorder increased my sphere of influence. I have been honored and humbled to write many articles for the Western Recorder. I have been interviewed on important topics and issues along the way — such as church security and church revitalization. I used the Western Recorder to advertise KBC events that I direct, like Super Saturday, the Equip tour, Shepherding and church security trainings. The Western Recorder helped me to increase my sphere of influence to serve others as they serve our Lord.
I understand the current times and I understand the reasoning behind the changes at the Western Recorder. I trust the leaders who have made the difficult decisions about the future and I support them fully. Sentimentally though, I will miss the Western Recorder. Thank you to all the Western Recorders editors, writers and workers for all you have done to assist me through the years. I will be eternally grateful.
Steve Rice is team leader of Church Consulting and Revitalization of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.