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West End Baptist appoints new senior pastor

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

On Sunday, Nov. 13 James Watkins came to West End Baptist Church to preach in light of a call. Soon thereafter, the church voted to receive Watkins as its new senior pastor.

“Any organization needs a leader. Any church needs a shepherd to lead us,” Eddie Lightsey, associate pastor at West End Baptist Church said.

Watkins is serving at the First Baptist Church of Leroy, Alabama until he starts at WEBC. He’s been there for 25 years, and the church has seen a lot of growth under his leadership.

The new pastor’s family has ties to Chilton County. His wife Karen Watkins was formerly Karen Lockhart. Acording to Lightsey, the couple was at a family reunion some members of the church were also attending and the members suggested the Watkins consider coming to Clanton.

The pastor search committee of WEBC had been searching for a year to find a pastor, going through hundreds of resumes to find the right person.

“As a church, we encouraged our people to pray leading up to this,” said Lightsey. “The church votes, but it’s God orchestrating all of this.”

The church had done a survey prior to the committee beginning their search, and the criteria the church voted on were a great match with Watkins.

“We are very excited based on what he’s done at his current church, his excitement in coming here to West End and the potential we see for growth in this area,” said Lightsey. “God has provided us a wonderful facility, great church members … and great leadership within our Sunday school teachers, deacons, committee leaders and church staff. God has positioned us for something pretty amazing and we’re excited about what this man brings here.”

The church is corresponding with Watkins during this period of transition so he will be up to speed when he arrives.

Lightsey thanked the church’s interim pastor, Dr. Mike Shaw, for serving during this time and praised his dedication to the church.

According to Lightsey, West End Baptist is excited to have a senior pastor and is ready to move forward after a year of searching.

“God gives that direction, that vision and that leadership to a pastor. The pastor in turn shares that vision with the staff and the leadership. That’s going to be the biggest thing … that leader that we can take a vision from and start making a difference in our community and this world for Christ,” said Lightsey.