When my young family and I moved back to Collierville in 2000, the ministry tag for Collierville First Baptist Church (CFBC) read “Home for Family, Friends and Faith.” As I reflect on our years here, that statement perfectly describes what both church and community have become for Suzy and me, as well as our children, William, Daniel and Katie.
My family has a long and blessed history with both Collierville and CFBC. It began when my father was called as Minister of Music and Youth in 1969. I was a precocious 1 year old and Collierville was more rural than suburban. Mom and Dad quickly made friendships that would last for the rest of their lives.
It’s fun to read the official church history version:
Bill Spencer from the Baptist Church in Iuka, Mississippi, was selected in the fall of 1969 as a full-time staff member, filling the position of Music and Youth Director at $8,500 per year. The church bought a house on South Street for him to live in.
We lived in that house with red brick and the long driveway (and the $8,500 salary) for almost 4 full years. Our 8mm home movies tell the story of a fruitful ministry in small town America. Families with kids who were a part of Dad’s student group have stayed in touch for the last 45 years.
Over the next several years, my father served some wonderful churches, but the family’s connection to Collierville was always there. A brief recap of my mom and dad’s ministry tells the tale of a remarkable return to Collierville in 1985:
- 1969-1973, CFBC
- 1973-1974, Daniel Memorial Baptist Church, Jackson, MS
- 1974-1985, Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown, TN
- 1985-1986, CFBC
My father’s second tour of ministry at CFBC ended on April 23, 1986 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. It was both an unexpected and transformative moment in my life, altering our family’s course and sending each of us down paths that we could never have orchestrated on our own.
But God was in control then, as He is in control today. He led me to Virginia, where I met and married Suzy and found a renewed call to ministry. He moved us to California and Texas, where we discovered a zeal for doing whatever it takes to reach unchurched people. And then, He led us back to Collierville.
The opportunity to follow my father’s footsteps in ministry at CFBC was something only God could do. I am so thankful for Pastor Gary Watkins and the CFBC personnel team for seeing in me the rough leadership and character traits that would translate to effective ministry in metro Memphis.
Our first Sunday at CFBC was June 13, 2000. What followed were 15 years of incredible, Spirit-filled ministry. The church doubled in size, the worship ministry multiplied to over 600 members and I grew to accept new responsibilities as a church leader. I will always be grateful for the personal, spiritual and leadership investment that Pastor Chuck Herring made in me.
As we embark on a new adventure at First West in West Monroe, Louisiana, we thank God for our years at CFBC. We will remember Collierville as a place for:
- Family – William was 2 years old and Daniel was 10 months old when we bought our first home in 2000. Two years later, Katie was born and our family was complete. Collierville schools (and friends) are the only ones my kids have ever known.
- Friends – We have made friends and formed ministry partnerships that will last for the rest of our lives. Generous church members, pastors, and friends, along with some gifted ministry team members, have enriched our lives far beyond anything we could have hoped or imagined.
- Faith – My kids have grown in both faith and maturity at CFBC. William, Daniel and Katie were all baptized here, and a multitude of preschool, children’s and student leaders have invested in our family. We are forever indebted to them for instilling in our kids a passion for Jesus Christ!
So what’s the Big Idea?
My family has a long and blessed history with both Collierville and CFBC. As we embark on a new adventure at First West, we thank God for our years at CFBC.
- “Like Father, Like Son” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
- “First West Hires a New Executive Pastor” by Brandon Rodgers
- “First West Hires a New Executive Pastor” in the Louisiana Baptist Message
- Collierville First Baptist Church
- First West
Bernice Taylor Cargill, A History of the First Baptist Church, Collierville, Tennessee (Memphis: Castle Books, 1994), 52.