Sebree—For Bob Hardison, it’s time to relax, but not if the Lord has other plans.
Hardison has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Sebree for 35 years, beginning his ministry in 1979. He stepped down this past Sunday. It was a decision that Hardison and his wife, Violet, came to together.
"I had read a book by Henry Blackaby, ‘Experiencing God.’ It talked about how God speaks through the church, through friends, through the community, and so on,” Hardison said. “I feel like God said to step aside; Violet thought so, too."
The church honored the Hardisons on his last day of preaching, awarding him with the title of pastor emeritus, which Hardison said was "the greatest compliment."
Although the title is an honor, it doesn’t compare with the family, friends, memories and community they’ve gained through the years.
"At the party, there was a roast. Members reminded me of the time I served garlic bread at communion. They gave me a hard time for being a bad singer,” he recalled.
“The church people have been loving and good to us. They’ve provided for us; they’re family,” he said.
"The secret: Everyone likes my wife,” Hardison added. “They decided to keep her, and I decided to keep her, so they decided to keep me."
The Greenville native is a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California. Hardison began his ministry in California, then headed east to Nashville. All in all, he has been a pastor for 43 years.
When asked if he ever thought he’d end up living in Kentucky for so long, Hardison said, "The Lord never called us any place else. Why go anywhere else?"
The Hardison’s like the life they’ve made in Sebree so much, they’ve decided to stick around. They recently moved out of the parsonage to a house across the street, and they plan on being active members of Sebree First for as long as the Lord allows.
"We want to continue the ministry. We want to help the church,” Hardison said. “Violet and I plan on being at church every Sunday, even when the young folks have to wheel us through the doors."
When asked to give advice to the next pastor, Hardison offered this: "Take daily spiritual time for yourself. Never say, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ Lead as a shepherd, not as a tyrant."
Hardison also plans on staying active in the Green Valley Baptist Association Foundation. where he serves as a chairman.(WR)