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A Blessed Life

Wayne Hatcher preached his last sermon as minister of the Horse Cave Church of Christ on January 7. After over 51 years of service, he is passing his position to Dennis Hogan. Photo submitted

Hatcher retires after 51 years

Katrina England

Hart Co. News-Herald

 

Horse Cave Church of Christ preacher, Wayne Hatcher, is officially retiring.

After first beginning his service more than 51 years ago, Hatcher plans to continue serving the church, just in a new capacity.

What many might not know about Hatcher is that preaching wasn’t his original plan, though he was called into the ministry at a young age.

“I went to Western Kentucky University for two years and was well on my way to becoming an ag teacher,” said Hatcher. “I grew up on a farm, and my dad was a farmer, (and) all that I remember. I was very active in FFA, and we had an ag teacher that was a role model to me. I wanted to be an ag teacher like Jerry Greer…That was my ambition. I was active in being an officer in FFA. I was treasurer and reporter, (and) went with Jerry Greer and four others to the FFA Convention in Missouri. I’d never been that far, so that trip was neat. I was blessed to also receive my State Farmer’s Degree while in FFA.”

Hatcher credits the public speaking skills he gained during his time in FFA as being beneficial for giving him the confidence needed to begin his life as a preacher.

Wayne married his wife, Becky in 1970, but neither knew their life would take an alternate course than what they planned.

“I grew up and became a Christian at a young age,” recalled Hatcher. “My mother had planted the idea a few years before about being a preacher. The Lord was working in our lives. After we got married and had lived in Hardyville for a year, I worked for Paul Wright at the camper factory. It was then that my cousin lit the flame that really got it rolling.”

Hatcher’s cousin, who was the preacher at Munfordville Church of Christ at the time, had just graduated from Sunset School of Preaching in Lubbock, Texas, and encouraged Hatcher to attend.

After visiting Sunset in the summer of 1971, Hatcher, along with his wife, Becky, committed to attending. They packed all of their belongings in a small pull-behind trailer and headed to Texas.

“I graduated from the Sunset School of Preaching in July 1973,” said Hatcher. “I spent two years there in intensive bible study of just studying the bible. It was a four-year equivalent in two year’s time.”

For his first full-time ministry, Hatcher chose to work with a church in Springfield, Vermont for three years.

“(Becky and I) both went to Vermont, and what a contrast from Lubbock, Texas,” said Hatcher. “The cold weather, the snow, the New England atmosphere, it was different…The church was nice. It was the largest Church of Christ in Vermont at the time.”

After three years, an opportunity presented itself for Wayne and Becky to move to Statesville, North Carolina.

“We came down and came through North Carolina, and met with the church there,” said Hatcher. “They invited us to come and work with them. It was a mutual decision, and was easy to make, so we left Vermont in 1976 and came to North Carolina and stayed there until 1980. It was just like coming to Kentucky. It was a beautiful area.”

After that, the Hatchers continued inching closer back to Kentucky.

Hatcher then accepted work with a church in Fairview, Tennessee. His new church had an attendance of 250-300. It was there the Hatchers adopted their two children.

“We were right in the heart of Nashville,” said Hatcher. “We had a bus ministry and ran two buses.”

Becky, who was always very involved in Hatcher’s ministry, would teach classes and rode the bus in the bus ministry.

In 1983, the Hatchers moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.

It was also at that time that Hatcher jumped into a new career as an owner and operator of a used car dealership. He ran his business in Cave City for 17 years.

“I accepted a position as minister of Munfordville Church of Christ for about seven years,” said Hatcher. “That was Becky’s home church. We came here to Horse Cave in 2002 after the retirement of Buford Fudge. I met with the church and applied for the work, and they invited me to come preach for them. I’ve been here since April 2002. I have nothing but good to say about the congregation here and the relationship we have.”

Hatcher described the congregation and eldership at Horse Cave as marvelous, and he fully supports his successor, Dennis Hogan.

“I’ve never regretted going into the ministry,” said Hatcher. “It’s been fulfilling…It’s been a journey…You see the hand of God. You don’t always see it at the time, but we always went on faith.”

Hatcher said being in the ministry has allowed to cross paths with some of the people and families he considers his closest friends. It has also allowed him the opportunity to preach the gospel, save souls, and strengthen Christians.

Hatcher even recalled a story of his transition from Vermont to North Carolina. One of his closest friends was a member of Hatcher’s church in Vermont, and he was saddened by Hatcher’s resignation. One day, he told Hatcher that he felt compelled to ask a favor: to help find him a wife. Hatcher, half jokingly, asked him what kind of wife he was looking for.

“He said she had to be red headed and blue-eyed,” said Hatcher, laughing. “We moved to Statesville, and just within a day or two they had a get together across from the parsonage…They wanted to introduce us, so we went over. I’m sitting there, and I look around, and see this beautiful red-head sitting over there…The next chance I got I asked someone about her.”

Hatcher learned that she was single, and of equal importance, she had blue eyes.

“I finally got the nerve up and said something to her,” said Hatcher. “I said, ‘Would you be offended if I tell you there’s a young man back in Vermont that I know really well that would love to move down here if he could find someone that he could date and get to know, and might eventually get married, if it all worked out. He asked me when we left, and he said he loved red hair and blue eyes.’”

The young woman laughed, but happily obliged. Hatcher called his friend and told him he thought he may have found his future wife. Hatcher gave each party the phone number of the other, and as of today, they’ve been married for 45 years. The couple had twins shortly after their marriage, and named their son Wayne, after Hatcher.

He stays in close contact with the two, as he does with many he’s crossed paths with throughout his career. He plans to still remain active within his church, as he supports the new preacher and his family.

Hatcher also expressed gratitude for his time at Sunset School of Preaching.

“I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the instruction and teaching I received from the wonderful bible instructors,” he said. “Those two years of intense bible study have provided me a solid base of being able to preach the word of God. I am very grateful (to them)…My greatest debt of gratitude goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His supreme sacrifice for our sins. I have been blessed to preach His Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world.”

Wayne and his wife, Becky, married in 1970, and she has been a continuous support to his ministry, which has spanned from Vermont, to North Carolina, to Tennessee, and back home to Kentucky. Photo submitted

 

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