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After 40 years, pastor Leverette retires, encourages others to ‘be true to calling’comment (0)

October 16, 2008

By Jeremy Dale Henderson

Big things were happening in 1968.

News from Vietnam dominated the headlines. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Richard Nixon was elected president. And 25-year-old William Leverette started preaching.

Forty years later, Leverette’s finally called it quits.

His last stop as a full-time pastor was New Ebenezer Baptist Church, Lapine, in Alabama-Crenshaw Baptist Association. He was honored with a retirement reception there Aug. 24.

The event was attended by about 300 people, including those from other churches Leverette has served over the years — Joquin Baptist, Goshen, was the first, followed by Pleasant Grove Baptist, Abbeville; Mount Zion Baptist, Brantley; Central Baptist, Greenville; and the list goes on.

People thanked him over and over for the meaning he and his wife, Betty — “my greatest cheerleader,” he calls her — brought to their lives.

But Leverette will tell you even that was too much fuss.

“I’m just an old country preacher,” he said. “The Lord has been good to me. My health just got to be where I had to hang it up.”

Despite the trademark humility he displays, the work Leverette is hanging up has changed lives.

“He’s been a great servant in our association and others across the state,” said Don Yancey, director of missions for Alabama-Crenshaw Association. “We’re so thankful for him and for his years of service.”

Though Leverette readily acknowledges that the grace of God has been the overriding theme of his ministry, he said he always felt a particular burden to bring unity to the churches he served.

“I believe the churches I pastored experienced that unity,” Leverette said, referencing the New Testament church found in the early chapters of Acts. “Not 100 percent, but we achieved some success.”

He is only 65 but complications from heart problems, cancer and a recent stroke cut short a career that might have lasted much longer. Rather than complain, Leverette laughs, summarizing his favorite chapter of the Bible, Psalm 37: “We don’t always have what we want, but we have what we need to live” — which is the advice he would give to new preachers.

“I would just encourage the young fellows to be true to their calling to lead, to be sure to follow the Lord’s directives and He’ll always come through for you,” Leverette said. “He has for me. I hope I’ve done a little bit of good.” 

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