Pastor leaving Demopolis for Jemison church

Published 6:49 pm Saturday, February 28, 2009

DEMOPOLIS — Rex Kent will step into, and out of, the pulpit at First Baptist Church of Demopolis for the last time Sunday. When he does, it will officially bring an end to the minister’s 11-year tenure with the congregation.

“One of the things that stands out is their interest in mission and their giving to missions,” Kent said of the First Baptist Church. “They’re a congregation that, when somebody is hurting or in need, they really rally around to provide support.”

The move is not the first of its kind for Kent, who is heading to Jemison take the same position at the First Baptist Church there. Kent spent 10-and-a-half years with Calvary Baptist in Prattville before coming to Demopolis.

While the decision was not an easy one to make, Kent said he and his wife, Martha, are uniquely comfortable with the choice they made.

“It’s just been, for us, very peaceful because we just sensed that this is what God wants us to do,” Rex said. “There’s been a real sense of God’s hand being in this and we’re right where we need to be.”

Now that the couple is preparing to make the transition, they are left reflecting upon the last 11 years while looking to the future.

“This was a good place to raise a family,” Rex said. “We raised both our boys here.”

The move also leaves Rex to look back over the work he has done with the congregation over last 11 years.

“For the most part, there’s a sense of satisfaction in having been faithful in serving the congregation. We were able to impact lives, to build relationships. I felt like I was successful with teaching the word in the congregation,” Rex said.

“We’ve just had a lot of different experiences in a lot of different ways. We did update technology in the church, but we also had some situations arise in the church that I had not dealt with before. I feel like we negotiated most of those successfully.”

Rex will now turn his attention to the process of learning to serve his new congregation in the way in which it needs.

“That varies from church to church,” he said of how long such a process takes.

“In seminary they told us it takes five years to become the pastor of a church. Some places it’s longer. Some places it’s shorter.

“They get to know you and you get to know them. You have to be there long enough to kind of build some trust,” he explained. “A lot of that will depend on what you find when you get there.”

While he is changing congregations and cities, the long-time minister said his goals and his focuses remain largely the same.

“You want to see people grow spiritually and you want to see the church add members,” he said.

He and Martha have a great deal with which to assess and contend in the coming weeks and months. But this weekend, which Rex admits will have its share of both sadness and excitement, is about reminiscing, bidding farewell and ensuring that his parting words are not wasted.

“The message is ‘Living During the Interim,’” Rex said of his final sermon. “There will be some thoughts about what the church should do while it is looking for a pastor.”