Lexington—For the last 40 years, Highlands Baptist Church in Lexington has had the same music minister. They declared Sunday, Aug. 9, “Jim Whetsel Day” in his honor.
“He loves the Lord, and he’s deeply committed to the Lord. He has demonstrated that for 40 years,” Highlands’ pastor, J.K. Pierce, said as he presented a plaque to Whetsel.
The plaque reads, “James E. Whetsel, in appreciation for 40 years of loyal and faithful service as minster of music at Highlands Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky. August 9th, 2015.”
“Besides that, he has done it without pay. Most churches pay their minister of music,” Pierce added. “He has never taken a nickel for serving as our minister of music. That’s the kind of person he is.”
“We do honor you. We love you, and we just want you to know that everybody is of the same mind about that, and about you,” Pierce said. “You deserve all of the recognition we could possibly give you. Words and plaques are inadequate to tell you how much you’re appreciated.”
The day was full of testimonies given about Whetsel’s ministry, a “pie supper,” and Whetsel singing, “The King is Coming.”
Whetsel, who has been a member of Highlands with his wife, Wanda, for the past 52 years, began his ministry as an interim music minister. Eventually the church called him to the position permanently. Although he had reservations about accepting the position due to “lack of experience,” he felt the Lord was calling him there.
“He didn’t know anything about music. I would like to have a movie of then and now, because I think it would be amazing the change in him,” long-time member Bob Lefever said.
“I have never known a man that is more patient and loving to us, even when we skip out on rehearsal time,” said choir member Doris Barber. “He just takes it like it is, and God always uses it. And later, he says, ‘Y’all sure sounded good.'”
She continued, “I just want him and Wanda to know what they mean to my husband and me.”
In addition to serving as part-time music minister during the tenure of five pastors, Whetsel has led singing for revivals throughout the area. He was ordained as a deacon in 1969, has served as an adult Sunday School teacher for 28 years, and has been involved in home and foreign mission trips.
“Highlands is the only church I’ve ever known. I was saved here in a revival meeting—my wife and I both were. We’ve been members 52 years in November,” Whetsel said.
“It’s been most wonderful being here that long. I wouldn’t think about going anywhere else unless the Lord just led me to do that,” Whetsel concluded. (WR)