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Kelley retiring from First, Talladegacomment (0)

August 17, 2000

By Sue Ann Miller


Curtis A. Kelley may be officially retiring from his pastoral duties at First Baptist Church, Talladega, Aug. 31, but he plans to continue doing God’s work.

Kelley’s career spans 43 years of ministry that began at the age of 17 when he preached his first  sermon. 

“Two weeks later I started to college,” he said of his ministerial pilgrimage. 

Kelley was saved at the age of 12 and was 14 when he received God’s calling to the ministry.

He remembers the experience well.

“It was a hot summer day in 1947 and I was in a field picking cotton in Pickens County,” he said. “I had a tremendously strong and sudden desire to preach the gospel.

“God spoke to my heart over a three-day period during which time I slept very little. I realized I was being called to serve Him,” said the Aliceville native who was reared in Reform.

Kelley’s father was a country preacher, who served at  rural churches in east Alabama in addition to west Mississippi. 

“I was helping my daddy chop wood behind the house when I told him I was being called to preach,” the 67-year-old pastor recalled.

“He was happy for me and  gave me some sound advice,” Kelley said. “He told me to always be prepared and to never be caught off guard when it came to preaching God’s word.

“I was the first pastor in the history of Pickens County to go to college to study for the ministry,”  said Kelley, who holds an undergraduate degree from Tennessee Temple College. He  also holds a master of divinity from New Orleans Seminary; and a doctor of philosophy in pastoral counseling from International Seminary, Plymouth, Fla.

He met Barbara, his wife of 45 years, at college.

“The first time she laid eyes on me I was sitting on the top of a pile of garbage on a truck where I was working garbage detail for my college job,” he admitted. 

“She claims she said to her friend, ‘Now that looks too good to throw away’,” he said with a chuckle.

Upon graduation, the Kelleys began their ministerial career at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, where he served as pastor from 1957–1962, and again from 1969–1988.

Kelley’s career also included six and a half years as pastor of Glenwood Hills Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.; three years at First Baptist, Lexington (Ala.); and one year as minister of music at Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa.

In addition to  his career in the pulpit, Kelley has held key positions with various Baptist associations and served on numerous committees with the Alabama Baptist State Convention including two terms as a member of the executive committee.

A love of international missions led him to serve short-term stints in Venezuela, India, Costa Rica, Colombia, Hawaii, Canada, Kenya, Japan and Nigeria.

Kelley, the father of three and grandfather of six, now plans to serve in interim preaching assignments, teach and possibly write a book on prophecy — one of his
favorite biblical topics.    

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