This column is by Bruce Ayers.
The pulpit committee at the Cumberland Missionary Baptist Church, which I chair, was searching diligently for an individual to preach for us on Sundays in early February. I called Donnie Fox, president at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, to ask if he might have a student that he would recommend to us. Why a student? We felt led by the Lord not only to address our needs for someone to fill our pulpit but to also serve as a source of encouragement to a young person who was studying for the ministry.
A few weeks later, Phillip Duttry, his wife, Rainey, and daughter, Piper, came into our lives. Phillip left us recently to accept the call to pastor a church near his home in Cleveland, Ohio. We have every expectation that just as we have been blessed by the presence of this young family, so too will the church that called him.
From the time he preached his first sermon, Phillip was exceptionally well prepared. Every sermon was biblically based, meticulously detailed, and delivered with conviction. (We also appreciated the fact that he often used examples from his own life to illustrate a point.)
Somewhat nervous in the beginning, Phillip rarely ventured from behind the pulpit. After a few weeks, however, the nervousness was gone, and we began to see a confident, polished preacher who loved to proclaim the word of God.
I asked Dr. Fox if I could write this column to make two points.
First, the young preachers that are being educated at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College—at least those with whom we are acquainted—are sound doctrinally; they know the Bible and preach it unabashedly. We had two of Phillip's classmates, Taylor Haley and Wesley Russell, fill in for him when he had to be absent. All of them did exceptionally well.
Second, churches should look for opportunities to help and encourage young people like those being educated at Clear Creek. Not just those who are seeking to be preachers, but all who have felt the call to serve in a church-related ministry.
Phillip, Rainey, and Piper blessed our church mightily; and we hope that in some small way we may have blessed them as well.
Bruce Ayers is president emeritus of Southeast Community and Technical College.