Pastor set to trade places

Freedom New Mexico

It’s been a long time coming, but after 35 years in active ministry, the Rev. Joel H. Horne says he’s looking forward to trading his place behind the pulpit for sitting by his wife in the pew.

Horne, who will turn 70 this Halloween, will officially retire Sunday as the senior pastor, or teaching elder, of First Baptist Church.

“It’s been a dream of mine one day to go up on the platform, hand a Bible to my successor as the pastor, say to him, ‘Teach us the Word,’ and then go sit down with my wife, Crystal, in the pew. I’ve not done that in 35 years of ministry, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s just too cool.”

Horne served as pastor for Dora Baptist Church from 1992-94.

“It was a very special church,” he said, noting that he and his wife married around the time they went to Dora — their first spouses died.

“It was like God sent us there on a honeymoon,” Horne said. “It was a little church that God just blessed.”

He said the church experienced something of a “revival” while he and his wife were there.

“We had many baptisms, many people joined the church and lives were changed,” Horne remembered. “It was just a blessed time.”

After spending 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a weapons mechanic and technical instructor, Horne retired from military service in 1978 at Cannon Air Force Base.

Horne also pastored at First Baptist Church of Texico, First Baptist Church of Post, Texas, and First Baptist Church of Clovis.

“One of the highlights of my ministry has been pastoring four very good churches,” Horne said. “I’ve been so blessed by the pastorates God has given me.”

The Rev. Dan Pearce, director of missions for the Eastern Baptist Association, said he considers Horne one of his spiritual teachers in the ministry.

“I’m excited that he’s done so well over the years,” Pearce said. “He’s been one of my mentors. He kind of adopted me when I was in seminary. He has challenged me, corrected me, and loved on me through thick and thin. I’ve probably learned as much from Joel as from anybody in the kingdom of God.”

Horne’s plans after his retirement from the active pastorate include rest, travel, teaching and preaching the Word.

Horne said he plans to continue teaching religion courses at Clovis Community College and Wayland Baptist University-Clovis campus. In fact, he serves as campus chaplain for the WBU-Clovis campus.

Horne was reared by an atheist father and a Jewish mother in Philadelphia, Pa. He became a Christian at the age of 30 while he was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, La.

Joel and Crystal Horne have seven children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.