McMillian retiring after 45 years at Bethel MB Church

Published 10:50 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

L.C. McMillian was a young man who was at a crossroads in his life.

He wasn’t sure which road to take so he prayed to God asking him what to do next.

“I prayed and I prayed hard and it came to me,” McMillian said. “God works like that. If you will pray and then listen to him, sometimes He will tell you what He wants you to know. Other times, He will get someone to tell you. It came to me that God wanted me to go into the ministry.”

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McMillian willingly took the road and the way that God showed him.

He had served in the Army and the Navy so he had some world experience to draw upon. But he quickly learned that leading a church flock was different from the strict rules and regulations of the military.

“Everybody is different and every situation is different,” McMillian said as he relaxed on the front porch of his home in Troy reflecting on his 45 years as pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Troy. “Serving as pastor of Bethel for 45 years has been very rewarding. I had served three other churches before I came to Bethel. I know this is where God wanted me to be.”

The fruits of his labor at Bethel are visible in the wing that has been added onto the church and the handicap ramp. Many uses have been found for the dining/fellowship hall and the stained glass windows have given the church a special kind of beauty and are a source of inspiration.

The church flock has grown to around 400.

“But not all of them come,” McMillian said with a smile. “I’ve seen generations come through Bethel and it’s a blessing to see children and grandchildren being raised in the church. It has been a blessed 45 years, but I got down on my knees and asked God what He wanted me to do now. And, I believed the time had come for me to retire from Bethel.”

McMillian preached his final sermon at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, April 1.

And, although he will no longer lead that flock, he will continue to pastor Antioch Baptist Church that he has served for 47 years.

“God’s not through with me, yet,” McMillian said, laughing.

Charlie Terry said that the flock at Bethel is not through with McMillian either. “He’ll still be around and a source of strength for the community.”

Terry, laughingly, said that he has been going to Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for 93 years and nine months.

“I was baptized when I was 6 years old,” the 20-year deacon said. “So, I’ve been a member of Bethel for a long time and have been led by many ministers. Rev. L.C McMillian has been my pastor for 45 years and I’ve never known anyone to do as much for our church as he has.”

Terry said he has vivid memories of the big, pot-bellied stove that “tried” to warm the church.

“A lot of Sunday nights, we’d sit on the pews with our overcoats on and still be shivering,” Terry said. “When Rev. McMillian came, he worked hard to save souls and make the church a place where we could come and worship and be comfortable, too.”

Terry said that, during the years that McMillian served Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, membership increased and improvements were made to the church that made it more serviceable.

“Under Rev. McMillan’s leadership, we were able to put in central heat and air,” Terry said. “We added a dining room and put in stained glass windows. We appreciated all that but what we are most thankful for is Rev. McMillian. He’s been a real inspiration to me – to all of us for all these years.”

Terry said that, while he respected the ministers that came before McMillian, he didn’t have personal feelings for them like he does for McMillian.

“He’s my spiritual mentor and for a lot of other people,” he said. “I know that people in our church and others, too, call him when they have problems. He assists us with all kinds of difficulties and gets us straightened out in a spiritual way.”

Terry said McMillian has visits the sick and cares for the poor.

“Rev. McMillian does what he thinks will please the Lord,” he said. “Everybody loves and respects him. The young people look to him as a father figure. He’s a wonderful pastor who has looked after his flock the best he can.”