Pastor retires after 23 years at same church

Originally published at Western Recorder –

Rush—Garner Baptist Church’s pastor of more than 23 years preached his last sermon at Garner on Dec. 28.

Gary Arrington, 66, is the only pastor that Garner Church in Rush, a mission of Rose Hill Baptist Church, has ever had.

“I want to spend the next few months doing nothing,” Arrington said, although his “doing nothing” includes a two-week trip to Israel. “But in that time I want to get closer to the Lord, and then we’ll see what He wants me to do. I’m open to anything He wants me to do.”

Arrington, a menswear salesman for 29 years, and his wife Deanna, who passed away almost two years ago, were involved in the youth ministry at Pollard when they felt the Lord calling them to Garner.

It was through Paul Badgett, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s East Region consultant, who at the time was head of mission at Rose Hill, that Arrington first heard of Garner.

“I’d preached some at Pollard, had just finished a youth revival and had gone to other churches to fill in,” he told Daily Independent. “I felt God’s calling me to preach, and I told Deanna, ‘I don’t understand it.’ Her words to me were, ‘We’ll do it together,’ and she really lived up to that.”

During his time at Garner, the church that averages around 250 on a Sunday morning received the Spurgeon Award from the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at Southern Seminary for being the top evangelistic church in mid America. Additionally, the church has an active jail ministry and a ministry to a local girl’s home.

“The church has grown beautifully over the last 23 years. They are still in the growth mode,” Badgett said.

“Gary has been very successful, he’s very orthodox in his preaching and teaching, and has been very involved in Kentucky Baptist life and his association,” he added.

“Gary’s gift is in evangelism and shepherding the flock. He has a real love for the community,” Stacy Keelin, a member at Garner, told Daily Independent.

“The call is still on his life,” she said. “He’s not retiring from the calling.” (WR)