Rumsey—Carl Sparks has served the same church in Rumsey for 50 years. He started his ministry in 1961 and in 1965 settled in as pastor of Pack Baptist Church.
Fast forward to 2015, and about 60 past and present church members sit in the Pack pews to celebrate his five decades of service to the congregation.
Church members shared stories at the June 18 celebration, including a light-hearted recollection of a community baptism on the Green River. A youth choir from more than 25 years ago reassembled to sing the hymn “Lord Build Me a Cabin.” Family and friends with fond memories of Sparks’ service shared plenty of jokes, too.
Jack Bell has been a member of Pack Church since before Sparks began preaching there. Bell said Sparks has held together the small church that sits in the middle of farmland on a narrow, winding road.
Sparks has always been a bi-vocational pastor, growing tobacco and working within the educational system. He taught special education at Central City High School and Drakesboro School in the 1960s and 1970s. He was also the principal for 25 years, spending time at both Graham High School and Graham Middle School.
Sharon McLaughlin worked with him then. She said he was a calm, laidback principal who respected the teachers. She said he uses the same approach as a pastor.
She joined the church after a split in her previous church that was difficult to overcome. McLaughlin said she felt welcomed at Pack and especially by Sparks.
“The people are like family. They really are, and it was nice to have someone that I trusted again. I plan on coming here until it closes,” she said.
Jerry Tooley also experienced Spark’s graciousness, saying he has been helpful to him in the 16 years he has served as the Daviess-McLean director of missions.
“I’ve never known anybody being here but Brother Sparks, always so gracious and so kind,” Tooley said. “When I first started my ministry as a director of missions, he was just so gracious to me, welcomed me, encouraged me, made sure to always tell the people I was here. … (You) always knew he was there for you.”
Sparks isn’t ending his ministry at Pack Baptist anytime soon though. He continues to preach each week to a congregation of about 20 people. (WR)