By Michael Smith
When Chuck Richard came to Kings Avenue Baptist Church in Brandon in 1982 he asked the Lord to allow him to pastor the church for at least five years. God more than honored his request.
Pastor Richard recently retired after nearly 35 years as senior pastor of the church.
When Pastor Richard arrived at Kings Avenue he said there were 70-80 people in the church. Now, 230-250 people worship there on Sunday mornings.
During Pastor Richard’s tenure, Kings Avenue started hosting its Walk Through Bethlehem production, held over four nights during the second weekend of December. This year’s event will be the 31st annual.
“I thank [God] for allowing us to have Walk Through Bethlehem because thousands of people have come to receive Christ as their Savior and [many more] have rededicated their lives to Christ,” he said.
In 1985, Kings Avenue started a Christian school on its campus, reaching a high enrollment of 330 students per year. Today, Kings Avenue Christian Preschool offers Christian education for children 6 weeks old to 4 years old.
Pastor Richard, 68, wanted to continue as Kings Avenue’s pastor until he was 70, but after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis this past year he decided he could no longer lead the church because of the effects of the disease.
Pastor Richard preached his last sermon at Kings Avenue on Sunday, August 13. The church held a retirement party and reception in honor of the pastor and his wife, Sharr-an, on Saturday, October 21.
On Sunday, August 27, Kings Avenue ordained and installed John McRae, who served as the church’s youth director for the past 4½ years, as its new senior pastor.
Pastor McRae, 36, wants to continue to build on the legacy left by Pastor Richard.
“My vision for the church is to see us grow—not just in our numbers—but as we serve God and His Kingdom and see people come to the Lord,” he said. “I really want to see our church involved in the community, even more than we are.”
Kings Avenue holds worship services on Sunday mornings at 8:15 (traditional) and 10:45 (contemporary) and Sunday evenings at 6. On Wednesday nights, the church offers youth and Awana programming at 6:45 and worship at 7.
For more information about Kings Avenue Baptist Church, located at 2602 S. Kings Ave., visit kingsavenue.org or call 685-3095.