Although I am not a Kentuckian by birth, I have been in and around Kentucky long enough that I consider myself an "adopted" son. I came to Kentucky in 1953 to attend Lexington Baptist College to study the Bible and to better prepare myself for my life's calling of preaching the gospel. I was soon introduced to several things that I had never experienced in my native state of Illinois. Such things were pinto beans (my mother always fixed white navy beans), white sweet potatoes, grits, fried okra, fried chicken, and ripe tomatoes for breakfast. Several new words also made their way into my vocabulary such as "ponmyhonor (upon my honor)," "quare (strange or odd)," "gaum (a mess)," and "turkle (turtle)."
In 1956 I was called to pastor the Newby Baptist Church in Madison County, Kentucky. I followed the pastorate of Harold Bratcher, one of the most godly men I have ever been privileged to know. To say that I stepped into this pastorate with fear and trembling is putting it mildly.
I was blessed to begin my ministry among a people that were loving and patient with a young preacher, and who thought he had all the answers, when truthfully he didn't even know most of the questions. About six months after beginning my pastorate at Newby, I fulfilled one of the things the Apostle Paul wrote was a requirement for a pastor, I became the husband of one wife. Irene was my wonderful wife for 55 years. We had a wonderful life together. The Lord called her home on May 9, 2012. The Lord blessed us witt three wonderful children, ten grand-children, and two great-grandchildren
The people at Newby were a unique people. Everyone seemed to know everyone for miles around. They helped each other by trading work and sitting up with those who were seriously ill. When someone in the community died, some of the family or neighbors would go to the funeral home and sit with the body until it was buried. To me this was a new and strange custom but it was their way of showing that they cared. During the winter months the men would gather at Sailee's Grocery to discuss the price tobacco was bringing, the happenings in Washington, and what was going wrong with the rest of the world. By the time the meeting broke up they had settled most of the world's problems, only to come back the next night and do the same thing again.
At Newby Baptist Church we usually had two revivals a year, one in the spring and the other in late summer or early fall. During the summer revivals, we sometimes had both day and evening services. We never thought of having only a one-week meeting and we had never heard of such a thing as a weekend meeting. Today, with all of our time-saving devices, we don't seem to have time for a two-week meeting. A friend told me of a church that planned to have a revival between Sunday School and church but had to cancel it because all of the men were outside smoking. Some of the great preachers we had in revivals were W. R. Royce, Lloyd Mahanes, Harold Bratcher, and Gerald Smith. During revivals we had dinner in a different home each day. My how those sisters could cook. I have preached over 100 revival meetings and eaten in hundreds of homes, but no one could cook like those sisters at Newby. My wife and I often talked about our favorites. There were Granny Long's dressing, Minnie's fried chicken and homemade cottage cheese, Scottie's stuffed peppers, Bess' ham, Valier's meatloaf, Rubie's homemade rolls, Dexter's butterscotch pie, and on and on I could go.
Then there were those Christmas dinners that were not only for family members but often included several neighbors and often the pastor and his wife. I gain weight just thinking about those dinners.
In the summer we also had two-week Bible Schools from 2:00-4:00 p.m. For this we would borrow a bus from the Boone's Creek Baptist Church, in Athens, Kentucky. This was the church where I had been ordained and where Irene and I were married. I would start out with the bus about 12:30 and gather children until time for the school to start. Teachers who came by car would bring a car full of neighborhood children. We would usually enroll 150-200 each year. For many children this was about the only Bible training they received during the year. This was a great mission work of the church where we went forth bearing precious seed and trusting the Lord for the harvest. Our labor in the Lord was not in vain. One young girl married and had a son who became a Baptist pastor. Another spent many years with her husband as a missionary in Brazil. Some of the young men in the community became ministers.
I feel like the writer of the book of Hebrews when he said that there were many that he did not have time to write about. Time and space will not permit me to write of Frank and Francis Long, Herbert and Dexter Land, Talt and Mary Kelly, Jack and Valier Moore, Clellie and Bess Long, and many others. They were great friends who took a young preacher and his family into their family. These friends are no longer in the land of the living but live forever in my heart.
Jim Orrick 6603 Willowrun Lane Pewee Valley, KY 40056 firstname.lastname@example.org
[From The Kentucky Explorer, September, 2012, pp. 88-89. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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