West End issues license to aspiring minister

Published 9:14 am Monday, August 7, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

West End Baptist Church in Clanton had the opportunity this summer to license one of its own long-time members into ministry. West End was approached by college sophomore, Chilton County High School graduate and church member Leighton Coppedge in early 2023 about possibly doing an internship at the church.

Coppedge spoke with youth minister Kenny Martin about the possibilities.

“Back early in the spring, Leighton called me and said he felt like God was calling him into ministry,” Martin said. “The next time we spoke I asked if he had any other thoughts and he said ‘I changed my major to education, and by doing that I can work with students and then see where God leads me in ministry.’”

Coppedge explained that during his first semester of his freshman year at The University of Alabama, he was at a retreat with his church in Tuscaloosa, Calvary Baptist Church. He received a calling there from God to join the ministry and teach his word.

When Coppedge made his decision to pursue the ministry known to West End, they began talking about the possibilities he could have to help within the church. They believed that a ministry intern would be a perfect fit for him, so he could work within all five ministries West End Baptist has. This allowed Coppedge to get a better view on where God is leading him down this journey of ministry.

“I kind of shadowed all of the ministers here throughout the different ministries at the church,” Coppedge said.

Coppedge spent all summer helping and shadowing all throughout the church, and as the end of his summer break drew near, West End wanted to be able to put their stamp of approval on him.

In the end, Coppedge affirmed his decision to follow Christ into ministry, and West End Baptist licensed him into the ministry due to all of the things he did within the church.

“As his home church, we wanted to be the one to put the stamp of approval on what God has done through him,” Martin said. “During his time growing up (within our church), we as a staff watched him grow as a young man, and there is no doubt in my mind he is capable of what God has called him in this direction (to do).”

Coppedge said this opportunity is more of a testament to what God has been able to work through him, not necessarily a testament of himself.

“I am really grateful to have a church that wants to facilitate that, and offer me the ability to work with them to pursue possibilities,” Coppedge said.

Coppedge plans to complete his four-year degree in education from UA and then see where God leads him in ministry. He said when the calling from God came, he could not explain it or say what it looks like, but he definitely felt it and is going with the flow to see where it takes him.