Friday, August 30, 2013


Two years ago, on August 31, 2011, I retired. I know many of my first cousins have also retired, and I’m sure there are stories that accompany all those retirements.  I would like to take this time to share a little about my work and retirement.  This site was established with a purpose of presenting stories that focus on the family (cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents). But I’m running out of ideas, and therefore I came up with the idea to write something about me. I hope you don’t mind. 

I had served Ridgecrest Baptist Church in the Birmingham, Alabama area for 30 years when I retired.  I almost wrote 30 “long” years, but in truth, it was 30 short years.  Whether viewed as short or long, during that duration, I saw many changes occur in the church and in our family.

My job title changed over time.  My initial title was Minister of Music.  I was both ordained and licensed into the Gospel Ministry by the First Baptist Church of Wetumpka, Alabama, the church I served for almost nine years, prior to coming to Birmingham.  When I came to Ridgecrest in  August of 1981, I cherished that title of Minister of Music even more because it did not have attached to it the words, “and Youth”. At Wetumpka First Baptist, I had served these dual positions, Though I enjoyed working with young people and saw many wonderful things happen in their lives under my ministry,  music was my first love and my calling.

My responsibilities at this much larger city church involved leading or overseeing multiple choirs from preschool- age through senior adult- age,  planning and leading the music in the three worship services each week, and ministerial duties such as hospital visiting and personal home visits. We had a choir for each school grade in the children’s division.  Our youth choir approached 100 participants at one point, and our adult choir sang from 80 to 90 people.  Over time as Minister of Music, I saw the children’s choirs move to combining some grades into a younger children’s choir with first through third graders, and an older children’s choir with fourth through sixth graders .  Our youth choir divided eventually into Junior High Choir and Senior High Choir.  My title also eventually changed to “Associate Pastor” to reflect the responsibilities the church expected of me.  

 The “Associate Pastor” title remained during the rest of my tenure at Ridgecrest, but additional descriptions were added, such as “Associate Pastor of Family Ministries in Music,”  and my last designation being  “Associate Pastor of Music and Senior Adults.”   During all these title changes, I worked beside four different pastors, two interim pastors, and I even acquired another title for a short time-- “co-interim pastor” during one phase of our church’s life.

In viewing my long tenure at one church, I easily am reminded of many people who have already gone home to be with the Lord.  Many were active and contributed a major part in the life of the church and in my personal life during those earlier years.  Lists are dangerous. Someone may be overlooked unintentionally.  But I would like  to mention some special people at this point who contributed much to Ridgecrest in those earlier years--names who many present members would not know or remember, and certainly the readers of the blog would not know. But in honor of all these did in support of their church, and in support of the things I tried to do, I fondly remember:   

Dot and James Bailey, Leila Banks,  Ollie Mae Blackwood, Elvy and Clestelle Brakefield, Maude and Hershel Bryan,  Johnny and Mary Burfield, Louis and Corky Camp, Zelda Carson, Patty Cooper, Virginia and James Davidson, Madge Fisher, John Franks, Grady and Kitty Gallops,  Everett and Lalia Grizzle,  Ruth Halbrooks, Franklin and Roberta Jones, Carlo and Olivia Martin, David McBrayer, Sarah Moon, Harold and Mildred Moore, Al and Billie Pearce, Curtis and Mozelle McPherson, Manuel and Willie Murray, Jim and Lazetta Nuss, Mr. W. A. Parker,  Beth Ramsey, Billy and Thelma Reid, Joyce Reynolds, Clyde Lee and Huey Sewell, Jane and J. L. Sivley, Margaret Sorrell,  Imogene and H. D. Storie, Pruda Tanner, Bill and Dot Thrasher, Billie Tucker,  Bob and Dean Tucker,  Glenice and Melvin Van Dyke, Katie and Julius Waites, Vertice Wood, Edith and Julian Yarborough,  and the list could go on, and on, and on...........

I must take this time to mention one pastor with whom I worked for more than 16 years, and that is Dr. James M. Castleberry, better know as Brother Mickey.  I worked with Mickey at First Baptist of Wetumpka for almost nine years. When he was called to Ridgecrest in Birmingham, I soon followed.  Those were very active and productive years. Our children grew up together. We became as much friends as we were co-workers in our church. Mickey passed away at too early an age.

But getting back to the changes. My children grew up and left home to go to college and then on out into the world, people left the community to move to the neighboring counties,  and the church transitioned from being a large church to being a mid-size congregation. With the changes in the make-up of the church, decisions had to be made which were both painful and difficult.   Relocation meant moving from a large facility, with a 2000-seat auditorium,  located in the Huffman area of the city, to a small transitional facility on 3rd Street in the Center Point area.  Then the permanent move was made to a converted warehouse on Highway 11 in Trussville, Alabama, where the church presently meets. The move has allowed the church to reach a new area of people, and there is growth in the church again.
Sanctuary Photograph of the church facility
which was sold to a up and coming congregation

In looking back at the journey, I must say that God’s hand was upon my family and me, and also upon our church.  There were joys mixed with tragedies, celebrations mixed with the daily grind, and hope always overshadowing despair.  

Since retirement, time has moved even faster.  I have devoted my time to writing this blog, keeping up with the Kilgore Cousins group Facebook site, overseeing different projects for my mother’s home, overseeing as well as doing much of the work in the remodeling of the kitchen in our home, leading the music in different churches around the state when asked to supply, and then since January of this year, serving as interim Minister of Music at a small area church, Central Baptist Church, in Argo.  Also since January of this year, I have resumed something I have always loved, reading mystery novels, and in so doing, I have discovered some authors unknown to me.  Of course, there is always yard work, which I’m very poor in doing, and other small tasks to perform around the house.

I share all this to say this.  As we get older, and life brings changes, our attitude and flexibility in response to those changes are so very important.  I have a full and happy life. “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:ll)  I wish the same for all my kin. 
Family photograph at my
retirement reception held August 27, 2011 at
Ridgecrest Baptist Church
in Trussville, AL
(from left to right: John Mac, Johnny, Pat, and Lee Beth)

My reception cake made by Dee Dodd.
She is an unbelievable cake decorator.
There were hundreds at the reception
forming a long line out the door.

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