Forgive me as I briefly reminisce about the past twenty-five years at Walter Hill. Gail and I moved here from Nashville after serving the Lindsley Avenue church for two years – our first ministerial work. We were not looking to move but Jim Creech called me and invited me to “try out” in December of 1996. I did and the rest is history.
I preached my first sermon as the newly-hired minister on April 6, 1997. On Sunday evening, May 25th, I preached on Romans 1:26-32 – emphasizing the sin of homosexuality. When we arrived for services on Wednesday evening, Cleveland Wrather unlocked the front doors and immediately the building filled with smoke. Lightning had struck the roof earlier in the week and the fire had smoldered until the open doors fed the flames. (This was at our former location on East Jefferson Pike.)
I have often looked back on that fire as a God-send because it helped bond the congregation together – sometimes as many as 140 of us meeting in the small fellowship hall while the building was repaired. We got back in the building on Sunday, July 13th, and held Vacation Bible School July 27-30 (Sunday – Wednesday nights). That was quite an accomplishment with a lot of effort by so many.
We started growing numerically and changing demographically. Our average age began to lower as more young families became a part of Walter Hill. We finally reached our maximum size – unable to expand any more. People would drive into the parking lot on Sunday mornings and leave because there was no more space. We moved into our current building in June of 2005 – with plenty of room for expansion.
I don’t pretend that any of the successes over the past twenty-five years are because of me. Remember it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). However, with the arrival of Justin and his family, Walter Hill should see some more growth as the congregation labors together. It is a phenomenon that almost always occurs with a new minister and I look forward to being a part in a supporting role!