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By BECCA OWSLEY firstname.lastname@example.org
ELIZABETHTOWN — On Wednesday the Rev. Bill and Sheri Langley, along with their collie, Rocky, packed up their home in Texas to head to Elizabethtown. Not only is he coming back to Elizabethtown but back to the church where he spent most of his youth.
After 28 years serving in churches out West, on Sunday Langley will preach his first sermon as pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church.
There are many differences between the church he just left, Harvest Church in Texas, and Severns Valley. When he started at Harvest, the church had just suffered a scandal of the former pastor’s indiscretions, membership had dropped from 1,800 to 600 and members were having problems paying a $10 million debt. While there, he helped revive and replant a church in need of help.
At Severns Valley, these issues are not problems but there will be other challenges. Growth does not happen overnight, Langley said.
He said specific strategies and efforts will have to be in place to reach out to and be a more impactful church in the community.
He believes Severns Valley has the opportunity to be a regional church to reach Hardin County and beyond.
Langley also is excited to be coming back home. Other than holidays and vacations, he has been removed from his Kentucky roots for many years.
He’s looking forward to getting reacquainted with people he knew growing up who are still in the area. His former Sunday school teacher, Bill Gibson, is still a member of the church.
He also has fond memories of Allen Case, a mainstay as music minister. Langley considers him a mentor.
Langley not only is looking forward to stepping back into old relationships but establishing new ones in the church and community
His brother, Scott, is looking forward to having him home.
“He’s been 800 miles away for the last 28 years,” Scott said.
While Scott has always seen Langley as his little brother, now they step into another relationship. Scott will be looking up to Bill as his pastor.
Scott’s wife, Jeannie, said the family had been looking to Langley for years on spiritual matters but now the role is more official.
“He’s been our hotline for a while,” Jeannie said. “We may now have to make an appointment,” she joked.
They have a good relationship and enjoy each other’s company. Jeannie is looking forward to having the opportunity to spend more time with the Langleys, now that they are close.
Scott remembered, in irony, a time when they were children and Bill faked a stomachache to get out of going to church on Sunday. It worked a few times until their parents caught on and told him he would have to stay in bed all day if he was too sick to go to church. That wasn’t part of the plan, so Bill went on to church.
Scott also remembered a time when the brothers went to youth camp together. Bill, who also sings and plays guitar, would bring his guitar with him and sit outside and play. As soon as he did the girls would flock to him.
Scott always felt this was an unfair advantage, not knowing how to play the guitar, and was left only with his own charm to try to win the girls.
As pastor of the largest Baptist church in the area there will be new demands, but Langley’s family feels he will do well and fit in well with the church and community.
“He’s so sweet, very laid back and so kind to everyone,” Jeannie said.
She added that Sheri will also be a great asset to the church. With a fun, organized and passionate personality, Sheri has never met a stranger, Jeannie said.
“Sheri is so friendly and very approachable,” Jeannie said. “What you see is what you get and she’ll jump in with both feet.”
While the buzz around the church for several weeks has been about the new pastor coming to town, his niece, Erin takes it all in stride.
“He’s Uncle Bill to me,” Erin said.
One last thing about Langley. Although spending time in Oklahoma made him an Oklahoma University football fan, with basketball, his heart remained true blue and he has commiserated all season with Wildcat fans in Kentucky.
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED
Severns Valley Baptist Church invites the community to meet the Langleys 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday at an open house reception in the church’s atrium. Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.