Gracefully bowing out

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Pastor Joel Horne of First Baptist Church, looks through one of his many books Thursday that he was packing away to move from his church office. Sunday will be his last day behind the pulpit and he ‘ looking forward to sitting beside his wife in a p

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.”

Terry Townsend, minister of education and church elder at First Baptist, feels the church has been blessed to have Joel and Crystal Horne.

“Both of them not only speak the love of Christ, but they live it out for us to see as examples. One of Joel’s outstanding characteristics is his transparency. It allows us to see his true heart. Personally, I know Joel to be a man of God. He’s one of my modern-day heroes, and I’ll always consider him a mentor.”

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 served as pastor to four churches: First Baptist Church of Texico, First Baptist Church of Post, Texas, Dora Baptist Church 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. Lance Clemmons, pastor of First Presbyterian Church and chairman of the Clovis Area Christian Ministerial Alliance, said Horne’s influence crossed denominational boundaries.

“I think he’s been an asset to every church he’s pastored,” Clemmons said. “He’s a great Bible teacher and a great colleague in ministry.”

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.