By Roger Britton
Pastor, Whites Creek Baptist Church, Rockwood
On Jan. 12, 1997, my wife Kathy, daughter Kacie and son Cody and I began our ministry when I became the pastor of Whites Creek Baptist Church in Rockwood. Kathy and I were married in 1979 and had been in ministry from day one of our married lives.
We started out as bus ministry director and children’s church pastor at First Baptist Church, Austinville, in Decatur, Ala. Then, we moved on to music director, youth pastor, associate pastor and a list of other duties through the years as God led us.
Though both of our dads were pastors, and with all the years of experience we “thought” we had, we still had no clue what was in store as “pastor.” After our first year at Whites Creek, we were worn, torn, threatened and ready to leave the pastorate to someone else. Thanks to Bill Bargiol (then director of missions for Big Emory Baptist Association) and deacon Ford McCuistion, we found ourselves going to a bivocational pastors retreat at Fall Creek Falls to be “refreshed.” We are still here 20 years later.
We felt forced to attend that first bivocational pastors retreat in 1998. We were wanting to go anywhere but a retreat to hang out with pastors and their wives. We just wanted to go away.
I remember that when we arrived at the retreat, Kathy and I felt so out of place and so alone. But, after a short time, we realized it wasn’t our DOM and deacons who put us there, it was God. It didn’t take long to find other pastors and wives who were in the same boat we were and just needed a break from church and the pressures.
We left that conference with a renewed passion for Christ and for ministering to His church. On the first Sunday back after the retreat, people after the service were amazed at the difference in the sermon and the joy and excitement that was in the message. All I could say was, “God gave us what we needed at the time we needed it most.” Since 1998, Kathy and I have missed only one conference and that was in February 2014 when our granddaughter (Kinley Grace Hicks) was born.
I am now in my 23rd year as pastor of Whites Creek and I truly believe had Kathy and I not attended that first bivocational pastors meeting, I would not be at Whites Creek, and possibly not in ministry.
For those pastors who are in a “rut,” hurting or needing a boost in your ministry, I highly plead with you to take the time and attend next year’s bivocational ministers and wives retreat in Pigeon Forge. I know God has blessed this time to encourage and uplift pastors, their wives, and to give us what we need to continue to spread the message that “Jesus saves.”
— Pastor Roger Britton of Whites Creek Baptist Church, Rockwood, delivered a devotional at the recent Bivocational Ministers and Wives Retreat in Pigeon Forge.