Jessamine pastor retires after 58 years in ministry

Published 11:54 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

By Glenn McGlothlin

Pastor Wally Rendel of Jessamine Christian Church will conclude his 58-year ministry career Nov. 18 after serving this current church for six years.

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Jessamine Christian, located at 130 Courchelle Dr. in Nicholasville, will host a celebration service for Rendel at 10 a.m. Nov. 18. Rendel said the theme will be faithfulness.

Rendel started preaching when he was a 17-year-old student at Cincinnati Christian University. For three years, he also preached on the weekends at English Christian Church in Carrollton.

Growing up on a farm in Miami, Oklahoma, Rendel said his call to ministry began in high school.

“My home church, First Christian Church, and Pastor Russ Martin put a high priority on reaching kids and challenging them to go into ministry,” Rendel said. “At my home church, I was given opportunities to serve. I was challenged to serve and encouraged to seek ministry. It was at a Christian service camp where the call to ‘full-time Christian service’ was extended and I answered the call to be a preacher and pastor.”

In 1964, Rendel said he accepted a position in Florence with a church planting group to help plant a church in the growing community.

“We started the First Church of Christ in the basement of the firehouse in Florence,” Rendel said. “The mayor of Florence offered the use of the basement at no cost to our meager congregation of 11 people.”

From humble beginnings, Rendel said the church grew from the ground up.

“We focused on young people and they brought their moms and dads and neighbors,” Rendel said. “We started to grow. We eventually found five acres of land for our new church. Members of the congregation banded together to build the church, and after two years of blood, sweat and some tears, it was finished.”

By 1974, First Church of Christ had grown to 300 members Rendel said, and would continue to grow as Rendel moved to Lexington to plant another church. Today, the church averages more than 2,500 in attendance each Sunday, he said.

Rendel’s good friend Wayne Smith, then pastor of Southland Christian Church in Jessamine County, desired to plant a daughter church in southern Lexington. Rendel said Smith extended an invitation to Rendel to become the founding pastor of what would become Southern Acres Christian Church.

Rendel served there for 34 years until 2006, when he accepted a position as church relations director at his alma mater CCU.

In 2012, Rendel joined the staff of Jessamine Christian Church in Nicholasville where he has served until now.

Rendel said throughout his ministry he has seen the power of Jesus and the gospel remain timeless.

“The greatest miracles I have seen have come when the gospel is preached and people responded by putting their faith in Jesus and are baptized into Christ for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Rendel said.

One example of that power happens every two weeks, when Rendel said members of JCC visit the Jessamine County detention center to share the Bible and love of Christ.

“Those who want to be saved, professing faith in Christ, are brought to our church during the week and baptized into Christ,” Rendel said. “Since September 2015, we have baptized 470 inmates from the Jessamine County detention center.”

Rendel shared some of the things he has learned about service through the years.

“Serving others turns the church inside meeting real needs of real people beyond our four walls,” Rendel said. “Serving others is what catches the attention of the community. Serving others is following Jesus’ footsteps. If I could live my life over, I would live it doing what I have done all these past years.

“I love Jessamine Christian Church and have been so blessed to serve there these past six years. It has a bright future. I am excited to see how that will unfold as a new pastor is called.”