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Pastor John Rigby retires after 58 years in ministrycomment (0)

September 2, 2010

After 58 years of ministry and 28 years as pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church, Smiths Station, John W. Rigby said if he had to do his life over again, then he would want to be a Baptist preacher.

And LaDonna Cowart, a member of the Russell Baptist Association church, would want Rigby to do it all over again as her beloved pastor.

“He’s been there for me for the birth of two children and the death of a father,” said Cowart, who serves as the church’s homebound director. “It’s unbelievable the way he went the extra mile. He had a genuine compassion for loving people; he was a real shepherd.”

On June 27, Rigby preached his last sermon and retired from full-time ministry. The day was “special” as people from outside the state and former churches gathered to honor him and his wife of 58 years, Margie. Also present was the pastor whom he accepted Christ under at the age of 18. The church presented Rigby with a cash gift and a chest full of cards written by church members and held a luncheon in his honor.

“We felt honored, we felt blessed and we were very happy for that occasion,” he said.

During his ministry, Rigby served as pastor of eight churches and an evangelist for nine years. After graduating from Trinity Bible College in Clearwater, Fla., Rigby served as part-time pastor of two churches in Brundidge: Richland Baptist and Shady Grove Baptist. He then went on to serve two churches in Georgia and four more churches in Alabama.

After coming to Philadelphia Baptist on March 13, 1983, Rigby led the church in building a new sanctuary, purchasing 47 acres of additional land and becoming debt-free. And all of it was a “joy.”

“We operated as a church family, as a team. We were together on everything we did,” he said. “God let us build a family-type, loving ministry. I’m thankful to have been their pastor.”

Rigby said his ministry has been built around four things: teaching and preaching God’s Word, a genuine love for people, being available to people when they needed him and a wife who supported him 100 percent. At 78 years old, he wants “to know what it is to relax” but will still occasionally preach and speak. Rigby and his wife will remain members of Philadelphia.

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