Dr. Baker's Final Pastor's Paragraph 2/28/19

Pastor’s Paragraph—February 28, 2019

There are times in this life when words – even the most thoughtful and carefully crafted ones – are just not adequate to convey one’s feelings and emotions. This, for me, is one of those times.

So a common word which is commonly used to express appreciation for generous gifts that have been given and for heart-felt love that has been demonstrated in innumerable ways will have to suffice. The word which I want to share with you (my Calvary Church family) – the word that I would ask you to “hear” not only with your ears but especially with your hearts – is THANKS.

Numerous verses of Holy Scripture (Psalm 92:1 being among them) declare that “it is good to give thanks to the Lord.”  So upon my retirement as your pastor, I first of all want to “give thanks” to God for the opportunity and the privilege (and I mean privilege) of serving as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church for the past 27 ½ years. So thank you, gracious and loving God, for making it possible for my family and me to be part of the Calvary Baptist family.

As I say “THANKS” to God for calling me to Calvary Baptist, I want to thank you, the members of our church family, for being such an amazing church. Thank you for being a congregation that is Christ-centered. Thank you for being the “body of Christ” (His arms and legs, His hands and feet, His voice and His heart) as you have ministered to “the Least, the Lost, the Left Out, and the Looked Over.”

Thank-you for being a loving church. Thank you for being a hands-on mission minded church. Thank you for being a “thinking-loving-God-with-your-minds-as-well-as- your-hearts” church. Thank you for being a church that “unites around the main thing” (the saving good news of Jesus Christ) while “respecting the views of others on other (important but not essential) things.” And thank you for loving one another through all things. Thank you for being a praying church.

There are so many “other things” for which I “Thank God in all my remembrances of you.” If I attempted to list all the things that I love about our church and for which I am thankful in regard to our church, then this already too long column would go on and on and on. (I told you that this was one of those times in my life when words were just not sufficient to fully express my emotions and feelings.)

So let me attempt to say the following on behalf of both Deborah and myself: 1) Thank you for being our “partners in ministry” (Philippians 1:3) from the first days of our time with you (September 1991) until now (Philippians 1:5); 2)Thank you for “being there” for us to help us celebrate our joys (marriages of our children, baptism of our son,  high school and college graduations of Katy, Nan, and John Robert and the arrival of our grandchildren (I have told you that we are grandparents, haven’t I?) ; 3) Thank you for being there for us and for ministering to us during the challenging and “rough patches”, too (the death of Deb’s father, the death of my Dad, the death of Deb’s mother, my open heart surgery followed by my bout with clinical depression).

Thank you for providing us with a generous salary and with excellent benefits. Thank you for the Retirement Banquet and the “light roasting” program that followed. Thank you for the cards, the emails, the calls, and the gifts. Thank you for the extremely generous love offerings. Thank you for your hugs, and handshakes (and “fist bumps!). Thank you church family for being you and for allowing us to be part of such an incredible church fellowship.

Finally, Calvary family, Deborah and I (knowing that this is one of those times when words are simply inadequate) want to attempt to say “good-bye” (short for “God be with you”) as follows:

  • The good-byes we say to you today are only temporary. You see, Christians have the assurance of knowing that Good-byes are not final. We will say hello again. We will be together again. In this life, most likely. In heaven, for sure.

  • Christian good-byes are always punctuated with commas. Never finalized with periods.  And it is with a comma, that we – to you our precious Calvary Church family – say good- bye.

  • The French have a word for what we are trying to say to you. The word is “au revoir.” We usually translate “au revoir” as “good-bye.” But the literal translation means “with the hope of seeing you again.”

  • And it is “with the hope of seeing you again” that Deborah and I say good-bye to you.

  • We do not say “adieu” – for that is the French word for a final farewell. A good-bye punctuated with a period.

  • We really want to say good-bye punctuated with a comma. We really want to say “au revoir.” We really want to say good-bye “with the hope of meeting you again.”

So, Thank-you   

“God be with you.”  

Today and always.  

“Au revoir” not “adieu.”  

With a comma, not with a period, Calvary family.  

With the assured hope of seeing you again.


In Christ’s love from a blessed and grateful pastor,

Pastor's Paragraph 2/14/19

Pastor’s Paragraph—February 14, 2019

My days of being your pastor are rapidly drawing to a close.  We have two more Sundays to worship our Lord together.  This coming Sunday’s (February 17) worship service will include the baptisms of seven new Christians!  My sermon (which is based on Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; 14:1-4) is entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?”  On February 24, I will be preaching my final sermon as your pastor.  Taken from Philippians 1:3-6, the working title of this message is “Thank You, I’ll Remember You, God be with You.” 
In coming days, I will continue to express my thanks to God and to you (my CBC family) for the opportunity and privilege of being the pastor of such an extraordinary church for these past 27 1/2 years.  For now, I want to thank you for all the many birthday greetings and messages that I received this past Sunday which was my 66th birthday.  Being able to worship God with you on my birthday #66 was a gift that I will always treasure. 

I look forward to worshipping with you the next two Sundays.  May God bless each of you during this time of transition!
Blessings from your grateful pastor,

Pastor's Paragraph 1/10/19

 Pastor’s Paragraph—January 10, 2019

Happy New Year! It was good to be back in the pulpit last Sunday (the first Sunday of 2019) after enjoying an after-Christmas break with family and friends. (And yes, my break certainly did include spending time with Baxter, Oliver, Annie, and Will – our four grandchildren!)
I trust that you had good Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Some of my favorite holiday experiences included: 

1.       The “Many Moods of Christmas” musical presentation by our outstanding Sanctuary Choir;

2.       The Calvary Christmas Project through which our church was able to share the good news of Christ and Christmas with 130 families including approximately 400 children;

3.       Welcoming to Calvary and to Lexington Niki Hays (our new Minister of College Students and Young Adults) and her family- Ryan, Ryder, and Karis;

4.       Baptizing nine new Christians on the Sunday morning (Dec. 23) prior to Christmas;

5.       Serving Communion and Lighting the Christ Candle during my last Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion service as your pastor.

Even as we reflect upon the experiences and blessings of 2018, we look forward to the New Year that is before us. Indeed, 2019 will be a year of change and transition for our church. Consider: 

1.       I will be retiring from the pastorate at the end of February after being blessed to have been the pastor of Calvary for the past 27 1/2 years;

2.       Marilyn Fightmaster, who recently announced her retirement as our church pianist, will conclude her extraordinary piano ministry with us having served our church in this capacity for the past 47 years; (We will honor Marilyn with a reception tea and program on Sunday, January 27, beginning at 2:00 p.m.)

3.       Our church will begin the search for our new pastor – a search process that will be facilitated through the prayerful recommendations of our Transition Team, through the ministry of a transition/interim pastor (who will be approved by the church), through the work of a nine person pastor search committee (to be recommended by our Nominating Committee and approved by the church) and ultimately through the recommendation of a candidate to be called to be our new pastor – a recommendation from the Pastor Search Committee that  will be “voted on” by the membership of our church. 

Let me suggest three ways that each CBC member can support our church during this upcoming time of transition:

1.       Resolve to pray for our church every day and then do it! Pray that we will be open to the guidance of God as we search for a new pastor. Pray that the Lord will work through our Transition Team, our Nominating Committee, and our future Pastor Search Committee in leading us to the person He desires to be our next pastor.

2.       Be faithful in your church attendance, and in the generous giving of your time, talents, and financial resources.

3.       Take special notice of the Transition Information that is included elsewhere in this newsletter. Be especially mindful of three very important upcoming dates (January 15, 16, and 20) when our church will have the opportunity to learn more about  Dr. Bill Owen whom our Transition Team is recommending that our church call to be our Interim/Transitional Pastor.

In the midst of the changes and transitions which CBC will experience in this new year, let me encourage you to rely on our always faithful Lord Whose unconditional and steadfast love for us NEVER CHANGES – Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) !
Blessed to be your pastor,

Pastor's Paragraph 12/6/18

Pastor's Paragraph—December 6, 2018

W.E. Sangster, noted British Methodist Minister, once described the Advent season as follows:

What is Advent?  . . . It is the first gleam of Christmas; it is the promise of his [Christ’s] coming; it heralds the entrance of the Divine into human history; it is heaven descending to earth . . . It is as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced the coming of the King. “Get ready,” he seems to say. “Get ready. He is coming.”
Let me encourage you to be present for worship throughout the Advent season as we “get ready” to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  Last Sunday (December 2) was the first Sunday of Advent. We: gathered for worship in our beautiful “decorated-for-Christmas” sanctuary (thank you Joye Smith and our Decorating Committee); lit the first Candle (the Candle of Hope) in our Advent wreath; sang hymns of Advent and Christmas; reflected on the message of “Christmas 2018: Some Assembly Required”; and welcomed three new members into our church family.
This Sunday we will light the second candle in our Advent Wreath (the Candle of Peace). We will focus on the role that Mary played during that first Christmas. The message based on Luke 1:26-28 is entitled “Mary: Seconding the Motion.” At the conclusion of the service, we will receive a special offering for the Calvary Christmas Project  which this year will make “Christmas” possible for 130 families in need, including about 400 children. Our Sanctuary Choir will lead us during the worship service on December 16th, the third Sunday of Advent when we will light the Candle of Joy. This service provides a good opportunity for you to invite someone (or several someones) to come to church with you. The Christmas music shared by our gifted choir will be joyous, inspirational, and Christ-honoring.
Sunday December 23rd is the fourth Sunday of Advent this year. We will light the Candle of Love (completing the lighting of the outer circle in our Advent Wreath) which will signify that our preparation and “getting ready” to celebrate the gift of Christ Jesus coming to earth and entering our world should be nearly complete. During this service, we will also celebrate the baptisms of eight new Christians!
The highlight of Calvary’s Advent Season will be our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion service beginning at 6:00 p.m. This for many of us is our favorite worship service of the year. Through the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible, the singing of Christmas hymns, the lighting of the Christ Candle – the center candle in our Advent Wreath, the celebration of communion, and the always meaningful Candle lighting tradition, we will put the finishing touches on our “getting ready” for Christmas 2018. 
So come and celebrate the season of Advent with your church family. Come and give thanks for the birth of God’s Son.
Advent Blessings,

Pastor's Paragraph 11/15/18

Pastor's Paragraph—November 15, 2018

This coming Sunday, November 18th, is Thanksgiving Sunday at Calvary. It is also Commitment Day, a day when we have the opportunity to demonstrate our gratitude to the Lord. Specifically, we are asking each member  of our Calvary family to demonstrate his/her gratitude to God in the following ways:

  1. By being present. Our presence at Bible study and worship is a tangible way of demonstrating that God is certainly worthy of our worship. So plan to be present (and invite a friend to come with you). Those members who cannot attend are encouraged to listen to our morning worship service as it is broadcast over the radio (WVLK/590) or to live stream our service by going to the church website.

  2. By making a confidential commitment to the 2019 church budget.  Commitment cards have been mailed to our church members. Commitment cards will also be available in the sanctuary as well as in the church office. There will be a designated time during the morning worship services this Sunday when the commitment cards will be received. If you cannot be present this Sunday, please mail or bring your commitment card to the church office.

  3. By giving a generous offering to support the Lord’s work through our church in 2018. We are currently behind in our budget giving. Giving to the church budget provides the financial resources which are needed for CBC to carry out our God-given mission. No one church member (or even several church members) can provide enough money in order for our 2018 budget of $2, 169,812 to be met. However, if every CBC member will practice good stewardship and “do his or her part” then more than enough financial resources for the work of our church will be given.

  4. By praying daily for our church during this period of transition and (after February 28th) during the upcoming interim period. Pray that all Calvary members will “step up” during this upcoming season of change so that even during the interim period (so that especially during the interim period) CBC will do her best in being the church that God will continue calling us to be.

I look forward to seeing you for Thanksgiving/Commitment Day worship this Sunday morning and at the Family Thanksgiving Feast this coming Sunday night!


Transition Team Information 10/11/18

Calvary Connections Newsletter, October 11, 2018
Note: the information that follows was published in our Connections newsletter. More information can now be found on the Calvary Transition Information web page.

The next few months will be an important time in the life of our church as Dr. Baker retires and turns over his leadership and 27-year service legacy at Calvary to another leader.  While we are reluctant to see the end of Dr. Baker’s ministry with us, we rejoice and celebrate the many good years of his ministry at Calvary. In the meantime . . . our newly-formed Transition Team has begun to plan the next steps for the Church.
When Dr. Baker spoke about his desire to retire to the Personnel Committee, this began a conversation about planning for the future of Calvary, both long-term and successional.  We felt the formation of a Transition Team could help us address some of these issues, leaving the future Pulpit Committee free to focus on the search for our new pastor. 

You may be asking, exactly what does a Transition Team do, and who are the members?  One of our first tasks will be to help Calvary determine where God is leading us. It is the desire of the Transition Team to ensure a smooth transition while maintaining all the ministries of the church through the months prior to and following after the retirement of Dr. Baker and until the placement of a new Pastor. The Team will work in conjunction with current staff, the Deacon Board, the Personnel Committee, the Finance Committee, and the entire congregation.    

Things we will not be doing include choosing the Pulpit Committee, as the Nominating Committee will have that task, nor will the Transition Team be selecting the new Pastor and we will only spend funds that have been approved by the congregation.

For your part, we ask that you pray for the committees involved, but also for the Calvary Staff, Nominating Committee, and Deacon Board as they seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   We ask that you continue to be faithful in your attendance at services, participate in the various ministries at Calvary, or get involved if you are not currently, and continue to support the work of the Church through your regular giving.

The Transition Team members all want to hear your thoughts and suggestions and pledge to keep you informed throughout the process. Let’s challenge ourselves to not only maintain, but grow in numbers, in spirit, and in financing the various ministries of Calvary during this transition period.

Team Members are: Becky Miller, Chairperson, Mira Ball, Amanda Hale, Lee Jinright, Abbie Jones, Ellen Kennedy, Neil Reed, Brad Scroggin, Matt Skaggs, Mike Taylor, Bill Thurman and Becky Wills.

Calvary Connections Newsletter, October 11, 2018

Associate Pastor's Paragraph 9/27/18

Associate Pastor's Paragraph—September 27, 2018

Ministry Expo 2018

The ministries and the ministry partners of our church empower us to be the Kingdom of God in diverse and wonderful ways. Those ministries were on display last Sunday at our MINISTRY EXPO in the ROC gym. Despite a fair amount of “liquid sunshine” sending roaring waves down Rodes Avenue, close to three hundred members of our church family and several guests enjoyed the fellowship of lunch around the tables and a tour of our ministry exhibits.
Ministries and Ministry Teams with displays included: High Street Neighborhood Center, Mission Lexington, Interfaith Counseling Center, Facilities Team, Decorating Team, Mother’s Day Out, Pre-School and Children’s Ministry, Children’s Mission Education, Youth Ministry, College and Young Adults Ministry, The Christmas Project, The Home Department, Christian Education Ministry, Music Ministry, LOGOS Ministry, Recreation Ministry, CBF Global Missions Ministry, and a brand new Calvary ministry known as The Tomorrow Initiative.
Additionally we were joined by ministry partners Georgetown College, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Kentucky. Special thanks go to CBF KY coordinator Bob Fox who made a special effort to join us in support of ministries of Calvary.
Big events like the MINISTRY EXPO are most effective when they are team efforts. Many thanks go to our Maintenance Supervisor Ken Conners who worked with me to coordinate the setup, to Lisa Garvey our Communications Director for the excellent pre-event publicity, to Education Assistant Tyanna White who always makes me look far better than I really am, and to our staff ministers who prayed over the event and then led in so many ways. Special thanks go to Recreation Minister Brian Varble for coordinating the Food Trucks. I particularly enjoyed the organic deep fried peaches with gluten free vanilla ice cream. Health food at it’s best!
One last thought about something new. Team Chair Neil Reed and team members Bill Thurman, Mollie Brennan, and Roy Griggs have been working diligently for the last few months to help birth the newest Calvary ministry, The Tomorrow Initiative. Seeking to plan for tomorrow by what we do today, The Tomorrow Initiative has been created to be a resource for critical information and assistance to those seeking to provide for the long range future of Calvary through legacy giving. We will learn more about this key initiative in coming days.
Thanks to each of you for supporting our 2018 MINISTRY EXPO. When the church is working right – there’s nothing like it!
Hank Ellington

Pastor's Paragraph 9/20/18

Pastor’s Paragraph— September 20, 2018

“Life in the Meantime.”   That was the title of last Sunday’s sermon based upon Jeremiah 29:1-14. The events described in this passage of scripture took place in approximately 594 BC. Many of the people of Judah (God’s people) found themselves in a dilemma. No longer were they a free people living in their own country. Instead, they were captives of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian government. Forced to leave their homeland – the Promised Land of Canaan – they were exiles, living in Babylon.
Now living in Babylonian exile was certainly not equivalent to being in prison. Indeed, the children of Israel were free to mingle with one another, to hold jobs, to get involved in Babylonian society, and even to practice their religious faith.
But as exiles, they were not allowed to go back home to Judah. Estranged from their native country, denied access to the Temple of God at Jerusalem, separated from family and friends who had been left in their war-torn Jerusalem homeland – those Babylonian exiles were miserable.
They did not want to become involved in Babylonian society. They did not want to even think about adjusting to life without the Jerusalem Temple and their home in the Promised Land. All they could think about was the day when they could leave Babylon and get back home. What they wanted was for life to be “normal” again.
This was the context in which the prophet Jeremiah (who had been left in Jerusalem) was inspired by God to write a letter to those exiles. And in essence, this is what that letter in Jeremiah 29:4-11 said:
“The day is coming when God will end your exile and lead you back  to Jerusalem. But this is not going to happen for awhile. In the meantime, God wants you to live and minister for him. So even while in exile, you are to “build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce, take wives, have families, and multiply while you serve the Lord.”

“In God’s timing, He will end your exile, lead you back to the Promised Land of Judah, and help you find the “new normal” that He surely has in store for you. But, in the meantime, worship the Lord in the present. Serve the Lord in the meantime. Don’t be just “Someday People” who dream so much about the future (when life gets back to “normal”) that you miss the blessings and waste the opportunities of the present. Be sure – even during this transitional, interim period – that you live life in the meantime.

As members of Calvary Baptist Church, we are certainly not in exile. But we are entering a time of transition and change. I will be retiring as your pastor on February 28, 2019. After that, there will be an interim period (of searching and seeking) before a new pastor comes.
But in the meantime, God is calling us to continue to worship and serve Him. The Lord is certainly not calling us to be “Someday People” just waiting around and coasting until a new pastor comes. God is calling us to be His People on mission for Him “in the meantime” of the present.
So in the five and one half months that we still have together as pastor and people, let’s rededicate ourselves individually and congregationally to be the best church on mission for the Lord Jesus Christ that we can possibly be.
I am committed to giving my best efforts in making this transitional journey with you. May God bless, guide, and strengthen us as we “live life in the meantime.”
Blessed and grateful to be your pastor,
P.S.  Be sure to come to the Mission Exposition in the ROC this coming Sunday following 11:00 am worship. There will be food (via food trucks), fellowship, fun, and numerous booths describing some of the various ways that you can serve God through our church in the meantime.

Pastor's Paragraph 9/13/18

Pastor’s Paragraph—September 13, 2018

Dear Calvary Baptist Church Family,

Just over 27 years ago on July 21, 1991, I was called to be your pastor. Little did I know at that time as a then 38 year old minister that God would call me to remain as your pastor until my retirement.

I am writing to share with you that I will retire from the pastorate at the end of February, 2019. My final Sunday as your pastor will be February 24, 2019.

It is with mixed emotions that I make this announcement: sad to say good-bye to a church that I dearly love; grateful for the gracious God-given opportunity that I have had to be the pastor of such an amazingly gifted and Christ-centered congregation; anxious about the prospect of being retired (will I really be 66 years old this coming February?); and yet excited about what God has in store for me during my retirement years.

While I do not know my exact retirement plans, I do hope to do some preaching, some teaching, some writing, a bit more golfing, and to spend quite a bit more time with my family – my wife, my children, my children’s spouses, and my grandchildren (I have told you that I am a grandfather, haven’t I?).

I am announcing the date of my retirement now in the hope of giving our church family ample time to begin making preparations for the upcoming interim period and for the search process through which God will provide a new pastor for our church. At this coming Sunday’s (September 16th) quarterly business meeting, the church Personnel Committee will be making some recommendations/suggestions regarding possible steps that our congregation can begin to take now in order to best utilize the transitional period that is before us.

I pray that we will dedicate the closing six months of our time together to be the best congregation on mission for the Lord Jesus Christ that we have the potential to be. So what can each of us do between now and the end of next February? Let me make these suggestions: 1) Be faithful in worship and Sunday School attendance; 2) Give generously of your time, talents, and resources; 3) Pray for our church daily; and 4) ask God to use your life in His service during this transitional time.

Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor. Ministering to and with you these past 27 years has been the highlight of my ministerial career. Thank you for praying for me (especially during those “rough patches” in 2008 when I had open heart surgery and in 2009 when I was hospitalized for clinical depression). Thank you for loving my wife and my family. And thank you for being the church that you are – a “Christ-centered caring church family in the center of our community” committed to loving the Lord our God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

As I announce my retirement, I want to acknowledge how much I value the ministers on our church staff. More than fellow ministers, they are my friends who in so many ways are like family. How fortunate I have been not only to minister with them but to be ministered to by them! How blessed Calvary Baptist Church is to have such talented and dedicated church staff ministers!

Before closing this letter, I want to express my special appreciation for my wife. Deborah has been and continues to be an incredibly gifted reading specialist and literacy coach, a fabulous mother and grandmother, an always well prepared Sunday School teacher, a faithful sanctuary choir member, and an “always there” ministry partner. God blesses me, encourages me, and inspires me through her. A better wife and ministry partner I could not have! Thanks, Deb!

And now – in the words of Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church will abound in hope.”

Your blessed and grateful pastor,

Robert G. Baker


Pastor's Paragraph 8/30/18

Pastor's Paragraph—August 30, 2018

At a called business meeting following the 11:00 a.m. worship service this past Sunday, our church unanimously called Niki Hays from Deer Park, Texas, to become our Minister of College Students and Young Adults. Niki will be coming to us from the Monument Baptist Church (in Deer Park, Texas), where she currently serves as Minister of Education and Students.

Niki and her husband Ryan (a native of Versailles, Ky. and a graduate of U.K.) have two children: Ryder, a seven year-old second grader, and Karis (KK) who is a three year old preschooler. Please see below for some additional information about Niki. And please be in prayer for the Hays family as they begin to make the transition from Texas to Kentucky.

On behalf of our church, I want to express appreciation to the following people who served on the Minister of College Students and Young Adult Search Committee: Mike Taylor (chair), Terry Freeman, Amanda Hale, Rebecca Miller, Lee Jinright,  Jami Foster, Josh Johnson, Sara Honchul, Lindsey Booth, H.K. Kingkade, Sue Shaw, and Hank Ellington. I will keep the church informed regarding the date that Niki will officially begin her ministry with us. In the meantime, our Personnel Committee has asked Jami Foster to serve as our part-time interim college minister and Abby Sizemore to provide leadership for our Young Adult ministry.

If you would like to drop Niki a note of greeting, her email is kamikazistudents@aol.com.

I look forward to welcoming Niki and her family to Calvary!


P.S. Last Sunday night’s church picnic at Donamire Farm was a most enjoyable time for our church with about 300 people in attendance. Special thanks to Orislava Skoroplyas and all the members of the food service team for delicious food and wonderful service. And extra special thanks to Mira Ball and the Ball family for hosting our picnic at the stunningly beautiful Donamire Farm.

Niki Hays

Niki Hays


Niki Hays

Deer Park High School, Deer Park, TX, Cum Laude

Houston Baptist University, Bachelor of Arts,
Majors: Christianity &Speech Communications, Magna Cum Laude

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX,
Master of Arts in Christian Education

Job Experience:
Minister of Education and Students,
Monument Baptist Church, Deer Park, TX


Pastor's Paragraph 8/23/18

Pastor's Paragraph—August 23, 2018

I am delighted to share with you that our Minister of College Students and Young Adults Search Committee feels led to recommend that Niki Hays be called by our church to become our Minister of College Students and Young Adults. This recommendation will be made to our congregation at the special called church business meeting which will take place in our church sanctuary immediately following this coming Sunday’s (August 26) 11:00 a.m. worship service.
A native of Texas, Niki presently serves as the Minister of Education and Students at the Monument Baptist Church in Deer Park, Texas. She and her husband Ryan (a Kentucky native who grew up in Versailles, Kentucky) have two children: Ryder age 7, who is beginning the second grade this fall; and Karis or KK as her parents call her, who is two years old.  The entire Hays family will worship with us this coming Sunday, and Niki will share her personal testimony during the combined morning service. Niki and her family have also been invited to attend our annual church picnic Sunday afternoon from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Donamire Farm.
Niki will meet with our college students and young adults this Saturday from 4 – 6 p.m. She will also be available in the Fireside Room this coming Sunday morning from 9:15 – 9:45 to meet any church members who would like to drop by before Sunday School. Please take note of some additional information about Niki which is included below. Be in prayer for Niki, her family, and our church as we gather this Sunday to act on our search committee’s recommendation that she be called as our Minister of College Students and Young Adults.

Niki Hays

Niki Hays


Niki Hays

Deer Park High School, Deer Park, TX, Cum Laude

Houston Baptist University, Bachelor of Arts
Majors: Christianity & Speech Communications, Magna Cum Laude

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX
Master of Arts in Christian Education

Job Experience:
Minister of Education and Students
Monument Baptist Church, Deer Park, TX

Summary:  I have the responsibility of overseeing all education in the church, birth to senior citizens.  Additionally I lead a student ministry team focused on ministering to, teaching, and discipling students in 7th to 12th grade.  I lead our student choir, develop our student ministry curriculum, lead our church-wide Sunday School Leadership Team, and maintain our church’s social media.  I organize, plan and lead our annual Vacation Bible School, with more than 350 children and 100 volunteers in attendance.  I have the privilege of leading our recruitment and hiring efforts for both staff and volunteer positions.  I spearhead our training efforts for nursery, preschool, children’s ministry, student ministry, and adult ministry.  I prepare for and teach, multiple Bible study groups weekly, adults as well as students.  As a licensed minister, I also officiate wedding ceremonies and participate in pastoral care responsibilities. 


Pastor's Paragraph 8/16/18

Pastor's Paragraph--August 16, 2018

This past weekend my Lexington sister (Sheri) and I traveled together to Tampa, Florida to attend the wedding of our Florida sister’s (Nancy’s) oldest son, Ryan. We celebrated with Ryan and Sierra as they were married. The wedding weekend also gave my two sisters and me the opportunity to spend some fun time together. We talked, laughed, shared stories from our growing up together days, and “caught up” on what was happening in each other’s lives. What a wonderful weekend Sheri and I had with Nancy and her family! How blessed I am to be the brother of two incredibly kind and loving sisters!
I want to thank our Calvary ministerial staff for their planning and participation in last Sunday’s service. Special thanks to Brian Varble for his excellent sermon. I have heard so many positive comments about the entire service (including the report of my mother who listened to the service on the radio and told me how meaningful it was to her).
This Sunday we will continue our sermon series on “Remaining C.A.L.M. in a Chaotic World” which is based on Philippians 4:4-8. We are utilizing the acronym developed by Max Lucado:
     C – Celebrating God’s Goodness (Philippians 4:4)
     A – Asking God for Help (Philippians 4:6)
     L – Leaving our concerns with God
            (Philippians 4:6)
     M – Meditating on good things (Philippians 4:8)
Our focus this Sunday will be on “Asking God for Help” (Prayer). Remember that we are challenging each other to memorize the entire Philippians 4:4-8 passage.
 I do hope all of our Sunday School teachers and leaders will attend the “VELCRO Church” Sunday School Conference which Carrie Beth Tonks and Hank Ellington will be leading this coming Saturday (August 18) from 8:30 to 12 Noon in our church fellowship hall. I also encourage our church family to be present for our Deacon Ordination and Installation Service which will begin at 6:00 p.m. this Sunday (August 19) in the sanctuary.
Please remember that there will be a called church business meeting immediately following the 11:00 worship service on August 26. The purpose of this business session will be to consider a recommendation from our Minister of College Students and Young Adults Search Committee. This recommendation will be to call a candidate to become Calvary’s next Minister of College Students and Young Adults. The candidate will share a personal testimony during the morning worship service (which will be a combined worship service that day). At the called Business Meeting, the search committee will share additional information. We will not release the candidate’s name at this time because of his/her current ministry position in another church. However, the candidate’s name and pertinent background information will be shared with our church family in next week’s Connections newsletter prior to August 26. Please be in prayer for the candidate, the candidate’s family, our search committee, and our church as we take this step in calling a new College and Young Adult Minister to our church.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. Stay “C.A.L.M.”

Pastor's Paragraph 8/9/18

Pastor’s Paragraph—August 9, 2018

As summer vacation draws to a close and a new school/church year begins, here are some things about our church that we all need to know:

1. First, we are encouraging each other to memorize Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near (at hand). Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brethren (everyone), whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think (meditate) on these things.

This passage is the basis of our current sermon series “Staying C.A.L.M. in a Chaotic World.” We are using the C.A.L.M. acronym which is the idea of Max Lucado:

C – Celebrating God’s Goodness (Philippians  4:4)

A – Asking God for Help (Philippians 4:6)

L – Leaving our concerns with God (Philippians 4:6)

M – Meditating on good things (Philippians 4:8)

In the midst of what will undoubtedly be crowded, busy fall schedules, may we with God’s help and the encouragement of each other do our best to stay “C.A.L.M.”

2.   We often refer to Sunday School as the “glue” or the “backbone” which helps to hold our church (with various worship services) together and which helps CBC to be effective and strong. Periodically, we need to review and to be reminded of Sunday School’s purpose and importance.  Such a review/reminder will take place on SATURDAY, August 18 from 8:30 (breakfast included) to noon in the church fellowship hall. Carrie Beth Tonks and Hank Ellington have prepared a training event that is designed to assist and encourage our Sunday School teachers and class officers in the areas of outreach, in-reach, and teaching. Let me encourage ALL of our Sunday School teachers and class officers/leaders to make this event a priority. Other members of Sunday School classes are invited to come as well. The teaching, caring, and outreaching which occur in effective Sunday School classes are essential ingredients to the effectiveness of our congregation. I look forward to seeing many of you on August 18.

3. There will be a called church business meeting immediately following the 11:00 worship service on August 26. The purpose of this business session will be to consider a recommendation from our Minister of College Students and Young Adults Search Committee. This recommendation will be to call a candidate to become Calvary’s next Minister of College Students and Young Adults. The candidate will share a personal testimony during the morning worship service (which will be a combined worship service that day). At the called Business Meeting, the search committee will share additional information. We will not release the candidate’s name at this time because of his/her current ministry position in another church. However, the candidate’s name and resume will be shared with our church family during the week prior to August 26. Please be in prayer for the candidate, the candidate’s family, our search committee, and our church as we take this step in calling a new College and Young Adult minister to our church.

During this busy and exciting “back-to-school” and “new church year” season, may the wisdom imparted in Philippians 4:4-8 enable us to remain C.A.L.M.



Pastor's Paragraph 8/1/18

Pastor's Paragraph--August 1, 2018

This past Sunday, we completed a four part sermon series on the identity of Baptists. At Calvary, we often refer to ourselves as baptist Christians (little “b” and capital “C”). First and foremost, we always seek to be “Christian.” Our church (as noted in our mission statement) should always strive to be a “Christ – centered caring church family in the center of our community.” While recognizing, appreciating and often partnering with Christian churches from various denominations and faith traditions, our congregation identifies with historic Baptist principles.

To remind ourselves of what these cherished principles are, we referred in our recent sermon series to what Dr. Walter Shurden delineates as “Four Fragile Freedoms.” These “four freedoms” which characterize a true Baptist congregation are:

  1. Bible Freedom  - “the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and the church and that Christians (with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry) are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.” We also affirm that the “ultimate criterion” by which we should interpret the Bible is Jesus Christ.
  2. Soul Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation of the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God (directly) without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.” We often refer to this identifying Baptist principle as the “Priesthood of the Believer.”
  3. Church Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free (under the Lordship of Christ) to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry (male or female), and to participate in the larger Body of Christ, of whose unity and mission Baptists are proudly a part.” This identifying Baptist principle is known as “the autonomy of the local church.”
  4. Religious Freedom – “the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar (the government) is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.” We know this identifying Baptist principle as “the separation of church and state.”

I would encourage you to read The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms written by Dr. Walter B. Shurden. It is one of the very best treatments of “Who Baptists Are?” You can also view all four sermons that I have preached in this series by going to our church web site and clicking on “sermon archive.”

Thank you, Calvary Baptist Church family, for being a true Baptist church in the best sense of the word. This Sunday I will begin a sermon series on “dealing with anxiety.” The series is based on Philippians 4: 4-7. The title of this Sunday’s message: “Remaining 'C.A.L.M.' in a Chaotic World.”

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!


Pastor's Paragraph 6/28/18

Pastor’s Paragraph—June 28, 2018

In my sermon last Sunday, I referred to a book by Dr. Walter Shurden (one of my most influential seminary professors) which has become something of a classic in the area of Baptist thought and identity.  The book is entitled the The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms.  In this book, Dr. Shurden delineates and explains four basic principles (or freedoms) which help the reader understand what it means to be a Baptist.

These four principles/fragile freedoms (along with Dr. Shurden’s descriptive explanations) are as follows: 

1.       Bible Freedom                                                                                                         
 “...the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the scripture.”

2.       Soul Freedom                                                                                                          
“...the historic Baptist affirmation of the  inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.”

3.       Church Freedom                                                                                                         
 “...the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom the perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ, of whose unity and mission Baptists are proudly a part.”

4.       Religious Freedom                                                                                                 
 “...the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.”

Last week, the sermon focused on Bible Freedom as we gave thanks for the Bible and explored how the Bible is the inspired written word (little “w”) which points us to the Ultimate Word (capital “W”) who is Christ, the WORD which became Flesh and dwelt among us.
This Sunday as we near the Fourth of July/Independence Day when we celebrate our    freedoms as a nation, we will explore Religious Freedom which is one of the principles that we—as Baptist citizens in our country—hold dear.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for   Bible study and worship.

Pastor's Paragraph 6/21/18

Pastor's Paragraph—June 21, 2018

Here are 5 things you should know about your church this third week of June:

1. We had a wonderful and well-attended Vacation Bible School the week of June 4- 8. Carrie Beth Tonks and her VBS staff (volunteers including youth group members as well as our ministerial staff) were able to teach 242 boys and girls about the love of Jesus. Thanks Carrie Beth for your Christ-like love for children. Thanks for reminding all of us to keep our “GAME ON!”

2. A total of 36 persons (30 youth plus six adult chaperones) are at Passport Camp in Danville, Virginia this week. Thanks Justin Sizemore for your love for and ministry to our youth!

3. 42 Calvary members will be part of the church-wide mission trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee next week. Pray that our team will be effective and faithful in sharing Christ’s love through various mission projects and activities. Thanks, Brian Varble, for keeping our church focused on missions.

4. Our Minister of College Students/Young Adults Search Committee continues to work diligently. We are prayerfully evaluating resumes, conducting skype interviews, and talking to various candidates for this pivotal ministerial staff position. Continue to pray for our search team which includes: Mike Taylor (chair), Lindsey Booth, Bob Baker, Hank Ellington, Jami Foster, Terry Freeman, Amanda Hale, Sarah Honchul, Lee Jinright, Josh Johnson, H.K. Kingkade, Becky Miller, and Sue Shaw.

5. Remember that the work and ministry of the church continues during the summer, Thank you for your faithfulness in being the church that God is calling our church to be.

See you this Sunday as the end of June draws near,

Pastor's Paragraph 6/7/18

One of the most influential teachers that I ever had is Mrs. Margaret Greynolds, my speech /communications professor when I was a student at Georgetown College. Margaret taught me (and all her students) how to become a more effective speaker and communicator. She encouraged me to be an active member of the college’s Forensic Team which not only provided me with the opportunity to travel to and participate in a multitude of various regional and national speech tournaments, but which also provided me with the opportunity to become acquainted with and to become friends with people from an array of different backgrounds.

Both inside and outside the classroom, Margaret taught me – not only to be a better speaker, but to be a better person. For me (and so many of her students) she was professor, coach, counselor, “second mother,” and friend. To say the least, Margaret Greynolds has been (and continues to be) a blessing to me from God.

This coming Sunday, Margaret is gathering a number of her former students at the Georgetown Baptist Church for worship and for a reunion lunch. She has asked her pastor, Dr. Alan Redditt, if I might be the guest preacher of the day. Alan, whom I know well and whose ministry I appreciate, agreed. So this coming Sunday (June 10), Deborah and  I will be at Georgetown Baptist. In my absence from Calvary’s pulpit, I have asked Dr. Redditt to come and preach at our morning worship services. So Alan and I are actually participating in a “pulpit exchange” this Sunday.

Let me encourage you to make a special effort to hear Alan Redditt. He is a gifted young preacher and minister. Justin Sizemore, who is a friend of Alan’s, will introduce him. Be in prayer for both Alan and for me (and for my friend and professor Margaret Greynolds) during this Sunday’s worship at Calvary Baptist and at Georgetown Baptist Church.
I will be back in Calvary’s pulpit on June 17th (Father’s Day). Thank you for your commitment to Christ through our loving Calvary Church family.

Pastor's Paragraph 5/31/18

Pastor's Paragraph—May 31, 2018

Acts 2:42 provides us with a summary of life in the early church. Notice how this verse describes the elements which comprised early church life:
“They (the Christians in the early church) spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.” (Good News translation)
This summary passage makes it abundantly clear that “fellowship” (koinonia) was an integral part of the first century church. “Koinonia” is used 20 times in the Bible where its primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The members of the early church as described in numerous scripture passages devoted themselves to koinonia/fellowship.
This coming Sunday (June 3) is FELLOWSHIP SUNDAY at Calvary. Following Sunday School at 9:45, there will be one combined worship service at 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. This means that all three of our worshiping congregations (early worship at 8:30, college, Summit service at 10:45, and the traditional worship service at 11:00) will be worshipping together. We will celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We will focus on the “tie” that binds us together as Christians. We will worship God Who created us with the need for communion/fellowship built right in!
Dress for the service will be CASUAL. Immediately following the service, there will be five food trucks outside the Rodes Avenue door. Tables and chairs will be set up on the green space so that we can have a fellowship meal. The Rodes Avenue Ramblers will provide music for the event.
So let me encourage you to invite a friend and/or family member, to dress casually, and to come to Sunday School at 9:45 and combined worship at 11:00 this coming Sunday, June 3.
This Sunday promises to be a great FELLOWSHIP SUNDAY at our church. I hope to see you there!

Pastor's Paragraph 5/24/18

Pastor’s Paragraph—May 24, 2018

Summer vacation is upon us! School will soon be out! Camps, family outings, long weekends, and extended vacations are being (and in most cases have already been) planned.

I hope that each of you get to have some “time away” this summer with your family and friends. Deborah and I have already “calendared in” some “time away” vacation plans ourselves. Rest, relaxation, re-creation, fun times with family and friends are certainly ways that God enables us to have some “Sabbath time” in our lives.  Summer time offers us a change of pace from the rush and stress of everyday lives – a change of pace which enables us not only to be a bit more relaxed but also to be a bit more reflective and purposeful, a bit more time to intentionally  “be still and know” that God is God.
There is always a caution about summer planning and activities, however. And the caution is this: if we are not careful, we can get so caught up in the “School is out and summer is here” syndrome that we forget or neglect to remember that our mission as a church continues.

So as you prepare (and soon begin) to enjoy the summer, remember God’s “summertime” work and ministry through our church. Be present for Sunday worship and Sunday school when you are “home and not away.” Pray for our ministers and lay leaders. Pray for our church family. Be faithful in the giving of tithes and offerings. Volunteer for a mission project or activity (Bible School, the church wide mission trip to Chattanooga, God’s pantry, a visit to a shut in, a card sent to a church member who is having a tough time, etc.).
Let me also encourage you this summer to invite a neighbor or friend (or both) to church. SUNDAY, JUNE 3rd, would be a good time to start. This will be Fellowship Sunday at Calvary. We will have Sunday school at 9:45. There will be a combined worship service at 11:00 which will include baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Following the morning service, we will have a Food Truck Fellowship on the green space between the Sanctuary and the ROC. Five different food trucks will ensure that we will have good food. There will be music by the Rodes Avenue Ramblers. Plan to be present, invite a family member and/or friend, and help us get summer off to a good start. Dress for the entire day is casual. I hope to see you then and there (and even before).

Pastor's Paragraph 5/3/18

Pastor’s Paragraph—May 3, 2018

This past Tuesday May 1, 2018, marked Hank Ellington’s 25th anniversary as a minister of our church. First as our Minister of Education and for many years now as our Associate Pastor, Hank has blessed (and continues to bless) our congregation with his servant leadership. God works through Hank’s teaching, preaching, sense of humor, love of Christ, commitment to Calvary Church, writing and editing skills, and willingness to work far beyond what is expected (and even perhaps his enduring commitment to U.K.’s football program) to make our church a more Christ-centered  caring church. Along with all of the members of CBC’s ministerial team, I count it a privilege to minister with (and to be ministered to) by Hank. In Hank, God has blessed me with a wonderful ministerial colleague and friend.  All of us love Hank and Linda (his “current” wife) and their family. Our CBC family certainly gives thanks to God for the Ellingtons!
Later this year, we will have another minister on our church staff reach the “25 Years at Calvary” mark. Carrie Beth Tonks, our minister of Childhood Education, began her ministry with us in the fall of 1993. It is not often that a church has the opportunity to celebrate the “5th Anniversary” ministries of two church ministers in the same year; yet, that is the case this year at Calvary. How blessed we are by both Carrie Beth and Hank! So we plan to celebrate their 25th anniversaries as Calvary’s ministers at a joint church wide appreciation event later this year. We will keep our church family apprised of the details. In the meantime, I know that you will want to join me in thanking both Hank and Carrie Beth (and their families) for their service to Christ through our church.
As we prepare to celebrate the ministries of Hank and Carrie Beth, I am reminded of the ministries of all the members of our church staff. Each of our ministers and administrative assistants bless our church congregationally and me personally through their Christ-like service, faithfulness, and love. How fortunate I am to be part of the ministerial team at CBC.