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Ira Vinson "Jack" Birdwhistell
A Tribute to Bill Treadwell
BILL TREADWELL—A Tribute
I first met Bill Treadwell in the spring of 1980, when my family and I moved to Georgetown, KY, where he was the new pastor of Faith Baptist Church.
And what a pastor he was! Coming from the Ministry of Education at the large Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Bill wasn’t accustomed to the tight budgets and Spartan facilities which characterized Faith Church at that time. He also wasn’t accustomed to the weekly preaching task. He often said, “I’m not a preacher, I’m an educator!” In spite of these unusual circumstances, Bill entered into his pastoral duties with great energy, enthusiasm, compassion, and, above all, creativity.
Always fascinated by ‘process,’ Bill worked hard on moving the church to make important decisions. His sermons were filled with stories, some comical, some sad, all with an emotional, relational, tug. A generation of “Faith-ful” college students sat near the front of the worship area each week, listening intently for the spiritual and emotional content of Bill’s sermons. He instituted the weekly children’s time, now a fixture of Sunday worship at Faith, along with Advent, Timothy Christmas, and other traditions.
Often describing himself as a “massive, bearded, man,” Bill was certainly accurate. But his eyes were his most impressive physical characteristic. When he looked at a person, it was as if he was seeing things ‘way deep inside, which the person himself may not have been conscious of. And he was always willing to talk with anyone at any depth.
I was astonished at how Bill and Lu always appeared calm and unruffled, able to juggle a family of lively college kids, church and community activities, and an amazing number of friends, near and far, for whom they were mentors. Their home was always a hospitable place for students, who melded naturally with Chuck and Christy.
Bill used fishing, an activity he dearly loved, as an entrée into the lives of his friends and parishioners, whether in conversation, sermon illustration, or in actual fishing ventures.
As Bill’s ministry at Faith proceeded, the church began to gain significant momentum. On Sunday mornings, the worship area was packed to the gills (uncomfortably, in fact). At one point, the church looked to be on the verge of beginning a building program, which Bill appeared to look forward to. At just that point, some key families in the church were transferred, left the college, or simply moved away; and the resources to build were no longer there.
With the building ‘dream’ on hold for a while, Bill was willing to listen when the people at Myers Park approached him with a new dream for his ministry.
Then there was the time when Bill and Lu returned to Faith to preach for the dedication service for the new worship area built by his successor, Steve Hadden. At the climax of his message, Bill exclaimed, ‘We need a cross in this church!! Can anybody provide us with a cross?” At just that moment, three of the young people of Faith processed down the aisle of the church, carrying a cross, the gift of Dan and Barbara Stone. What a marvelous time it was!
Bill is one of those folks you just assume will always be there. The world and the Kingdom are surely poorer without his presence, but his influence will endure a long time!