By Allyson Dix, Managing Editor, Barren County Progress
Local Glasgow Kiwanis held a small recognition ceremony for Dr. Bill Whittaker in March and presented him with an award for his 50 years of service with the Kiwanis organization.
Members and guest pastors associated with Whittaker were present and shared accounts of how he impacted their lives through serving together and seeing him live out the Gospel in his life.
Whittaker also received a photo collage with photographs of him and members of the Kiwanis Club.
Whittaker was highly amused with the inscription on the bottom of the collage, which humorously reads, “No matter wherever you go or whatever you do, you will always be one of us–a Glasgow Kiwanian. Warning: This may work against you in front of a judge.”
“Bill has been an integral part of our club for several years,” former Kiwanis’ President Scott Kerley said, “He was always present with a ready story about pastoral ministry, appropriately-timed humor, and consistently offered his time and skills in our various service projects.”
Kerley also said Whittaker’s demeanor, can-do attitude, and selflessness in serving others stands out in stark contrast to modern society.
“It’s been a great organization, the Kiwanis,” Whittaker shared with the Barren County Progress (BCP), “I’m grateful for the concern the organization has for young people, the scholarships we’ve given, and the community involvement.”
But Dr. Whittaker’s life has been more than a Kiwanian.
Whittaker’s service has been a lifelong one through various roles especially in ministry. He is a Warren County native and in his senior year at Warren County High, his classmates voted him as most likely to succeed. He met his late wife, Rebecca, in a youth revival. At that time, both were serving as missionaries in two separate parts of the world. He is also a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Union College.
In 1964, Whittaker was called to pastor Bristrow’s Jackson Grove Baptist Church, and in the summer of ‘66, he married Rebecca. They went on to have three children: John Mark, Karen Marie, and Mary Kaye. Both had other careers at the time as well.
More locally, Whittaker served as the pastor for Glasgow Baptist Church (GBC) from Jan. 2007 through Dec. 2010. Under his leadership, several missionary innovations occurred including the conception of a deaf ministry and remodeling of the children’s area in the church as well as initiating an assistant for ministering to children and families.
During his time at GBC, he and others traveled to India, Russia, and an Indian reservation in Arizona for missionary work. “Going to Russia and the other areas was an amazing experience and I’m glad we could go,” Whittaker said.
The short stent in Glasgow is only a portion of his lifelong service that he and Rebecca have shared in their ministry work.
From 1969-1976, Whittaker was the pastor at First Baptist Church in Sturgis, Ky., and during this time, in 1974, he went on to attain a Doctor of Ministry degree. After that, he spent seven years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Murray, Ky. In 1981, Whittaker was elected Kentucky Baptist Convention president.
In the 80s, Whittaker was pastor of the International Baptist Church in Manila, Philippines, and was a teacher for a Baptist bible school in Filipino.
He shared that his wife was the director of the preschool in 1983 at International Baptist Church, which had 50 children from five different nations attending. After the debt for its sanctuary was paid off, the church would grow with the addition of two new ones and eventually one of those would go on to start three more new churches.
He also became the first pastor of the Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida, in 1986 and two years later, President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College (CCBBC) in Pineville, Ky., from 1988-2007.
Whittaker told the BCP a plaque was placed on the front of one of the buildings at CCBBC dedicating it as The Bill D. Whittaker Classroom Building in 2009. The building was built in 1998.
According to CCBBC’s website, Whittaker eliminated the college’s debt under his administration. The plaque on the Whittaker Classroom Building explains the last note payment of nearly one million dollars made the school debt-free.
Additionally, the bible school saw more growth under Whittaker’s leadership including 20 remodeled cottages as well as six duplexes and three townhouses constructed. The Irene Peterson Child Development Center and the Medical Services Center were also constructed. Many other additions would occur; however, also worth noting is that the college endowment grew from two million dollars to thirteen million all while the school remained debt-free. “To God Be the Glory!” the plaque exclaims.
“In 1996, the Association of Biblical Higher Education reaffirmed the college’s accreditation for ten years and then reaffirmed the accreditation until 2017. A successful capital campaign concluded in 1998 with the completion of a new classroom building and nearly a million dollars in additional endowment. In June 1999, the college received accreditation with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the accreditation was renewed in June of 2005,” the website highlights under Whittaker’s tenure.
Whittaker was a moderator for the Liberty Association and in June 2010, he was elected as a Kentucky representative on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
Whittaker sought retirement around a decade ago and Rebecca, who was a school teacher, passed away in Jan. 2022. They were married for 55 years. “She was a great lady,” Whittaker said.
After a life of traveling the world carrying out the Great Commission and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Whittaker has made his way back home to Warren County where he lives closer to his family. During his retirement, he served as an interim pastor and supply preacher. He is also the author of the
book, Silent Tears: One Black Family’s Quiet Tolerance of Racial Prejudice, Corbin, Ky. 1919-1993.
“The Good Lord just blesses us if we’re willing to follow what he says,” Whittaker shared with the BCP, “As I look back across my years, I’m just amazed at the diversity and different kinds of things I’ve been able to do, but we were willing to go, willing to do.”
When the prophet Isaiah cried out to God exclaiming he would go fulfill God’s work, He sent him. Isaiah 6:8 says, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me,” and is an example of a believer responding to God’s invitation to complete His work in the world.
Isaiah went, and so did Dr. Bill Whittaker.