I remember as a small child attending Sunday School and Church at Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey with my brother Dave (14 months my senior) and my maternal grandmother, Ida Niedrach. During World War II my mother, brother, myself and our aunt lived with my grandparents in a house two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and three blocks from the church. As a small child I remember spending every Sunday crawling, running and playing in church. Taylor Memorial was affiliated with the American Baptist Association.
About the time I reached the fifth grade Dave and I joined the Baptist Youth Fellowship program at church which met every Sunday evening in the basement of the church from 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm. As a good Baptist in training I always picked a seat on the back row with my brother and the Reid boys, Tommy and Paul who were our age. The youth leader was Mr. Roy Ammerman, a local banker who arranged beach parties, cookouts, hay rides in the fall and Christmas parties. He drove a long convertible that I loved to ride in when we took short trips around town.
One Sunday night our father dropped us off at church just before 6:00 pm and we went into the basement for youth fellowship. During the opening prayer I was moved and compelled to the belief and understanding that Jesus was lord and I needed him in my life. Silently I prayed to receive Jesus as my personal Savior. So I accepted Jesus as my personal savior in the silence and safety of my seat on the back row. I believed then and know even now that I was saved.
That night when our father picked us up shortly after 7:00 pm I jumped in the car and asked if he was saved. I asked “did you ever accept Jesus as your Savior?” I told him I just did and when we arrived home I let my mother and grandmother know. That was the extent of my public profession of faith and continued to claim my faith as a Christian. It wasn’t until I returned from Vietnam in 1967 and moved to Fort Rucker, Alabama where Betty, our son, Tim, and I began to attend Ozark Baptist Church that I made a public profession of faith and was baptized by Rev. Don Miley. At the time of my public profession of faith I was twenty-four years old, a Captain in the United States Army, had served a year as a combat helicopter pilot, was married, and had a two year old son.
While we were stationed at Fort Rucker we attended Sunday School, Church and Training Union at Ozark Baptist Church and I began to learn what it meant to be a practicing Christian. In 1968 we separated from the service and I enrolled in Law School at the University of Kentucky. The first six months we lived in an apartment and did not attend church. The following February we rented a small house on the west side of Lexington and began to attend Rosemont Baptist Church. We spent the next forty years as members of Rosemont where our children were baptized, our daughter married, we taught Sunday School, worked in the youth program, coached basketball and softball teams, ran a basketball clinic, chaperoned youth choir trips, worked in Bible School, was ordained as a deacon (early 1970’s), served two terms as chairman of deacons, and served as chair of the pulpit search committee in 1993. When called I was never able to say no and the load was never carried just by me. I did not do the heavy lifting.
In 2008 after 40 years we left Lexington and moved to Louisville. We lived in an apartment for 18 months while we sold our Lexington residence and purchased a new home here. We moved into the new home in July of 2009 and visited Broadway Baptist in late September. From the moment we set foot in the front doors we felt part of the fellowship. On subsequent visits we were remembered not just by our face but by our names. We were led to join in November of 2009 and have been immersed in the fellowship and community ever since. Each week since November of 2009 we have woven another thread into the fabric of this fellowship, and it was not just our doing but the effort of the existing and subsequent new members.
Over the years that passed from that Sunday evening on the back row in the basement of Taylor Memorial Church in Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey I have known who I belonged to and that my salvation was secure. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was in fear or felt insecure about that or anything else. Although I did not make my decision public beyond my family I was confident then and am confident now that I belong to Christ. Each time I have been called upon to serve I heard the voice of God and could not say no. I have enjoyed the journey and look forward to many more years of service and fellowship.