East Texas pastor retires after 30 years

East Texas pastor retires after 30 years

HENDERSON, Texas (KLTV) - While churches have faced many changes to their services over the past month, one church, in particular, changed a whole lot after their service on Sunday.

“When pastors go to a church, they talk about their honeymoon period, the first year or two, it’s a good honeymoon time,” said Bill Kuykendall. “I can honestly say all 30 years have been a honeymoon time, it’s just been awesome.”

Today was the last sermon at Calvary Baptist Church, in Henderson, for Senior Pastor Bill Kuykendall.

“It’s not something he takes lightly, it’s something he puts his whole heart into leading,” said Clay Dunnavant, a member of the church for 16 years.

Kuykendall has been the pastor at Calvary for 30 years.

“It’s been a blessing to be a part of people’s lives all these years,” said Kuykendall. “I’ve been here long enough to see people profess their faith in Christ. I’ve married them, baptized them, and then I’ve won their children to the Lord and baptized their children and married them.”

The members of the church say he’s someone they can always count on.

“He’s there when you need him, he’s so faithful, honest,” said Sharon Smith, a member of the church for four years. “I know I can call on him when I need to.”

“Brother Bill has been a huge part of our lives for the past 16 years,” said Dunnavant. “He walked with us through a lot of crazy situations, he’s also been a good friend, but he’s a phenomenal pastor. Being able to pick people up and help them through all kinds of situations. We’re excited he’s going to get to enjoy retirement, but as a church, we know we’re going to miss him.”

Kuykendall leaves behind a legacy at Calvary.

“Everything that Brother Bill teaches has lead us to try to be a better person,” said Rocky Richardson, a member for just over two years. “Not for him, but for God and the greater glory of God and that’s exactly what we want to do and that’s what Brother Bill tries to get you to do in your everyday life.”

He also leaves behind lessons that his church members won’t soon forget.

“He always talks about gasoline and water. As a leader, they carry two buckets; one with gasoline and one with water and having the wisdom to know which to throw on the fire, sometimes you need to fire it up, sometimes you need to put it out,” said Dunnavant. “Not just in church, but in my daily life and work like, that’s something I’ve always remembered to always think about when we’re facing situations.”

“This is not the end for Calvary, this is just another step and another way for us to grow and get bigger,” said Richardson. “We’re bringing in a younger guy and hopefully he can take off exactly where Brother Bill left it at.”

Kuykendall says he’s looking forward to fishing more in his retirement and spending more time with his ten grandkids.

“Everybody in this parking lot has a story with him and each one is unique, whether its a personal or life situation they went through or working with him side by side leading Calvary to the next level,” said Dunnavant. “The leadership he shows is something you don’t find, it’s very sincere and very heart-driven.”

Kuykendall said he’ll be sticking around the church in a limited capacity to help the transition for the new pastor.

“I’ve been blessed like no man has, to be able to pastor a church like this, for this many years,” said Kuykendall.

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