ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (KT) -- One of Kentucky’s oldest and most well-known churches is celebrating the call of a new lead pastor. Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown called Curtis Woods on Sunday to fill the role left vacant after Bill Langley took a position with the International Mission Board in January.
“When it came to character, competence, capability, chemistry, and courage, Dr. Woods rose to the top and ultimately, after much prayer and discussion throughout the process, our team became convinced that God had led us to His man, Dr. Curtis Woods,” said Kevin Ray, Severns Valley lead pastor search team chair.
Woods began serving the church as a supply preacher in February. He was asked to continue when COVID-19 caused the church to move to an online platform. “After months of preaching to a camera and ministering via email and phone calls to several members, the Holy Spirit impressed an insatiable desire to shepherd this body,” Woods said.
"It's through this time God led us to Pastor Curtis and led Pastor Curtis to Severns Valley. What many would call horrible, God used this time to show us, 'We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose," (Rom. 8:28) said Jeff Wilson, Severns Valley executive pastor.
After several people in the church approached Woods separately and asked him to consider submitting his name, he believed God was urging him forward. “I awaited confirmation from others within the body. I received it and began the journey toward pastoring this beautiful body of baptized believers,” he said.
Woods has served the Kentucky Baptist Convention for almost 15 years. He began as a regional campus minister at Kentucky State University and became the Associate Executive Director for Convention Relations in 2012.
“Curtis has deep and meaningful friendships with leaders all across the KBC and the Southern Baptist Convention," said Todd Gray, KBC executive director-treasurer. "Early on, I realized that everywhere Dr. Woods has been to preach and teach, he has made new friends.”
Ray believes Woods' vision for kingdom impact is why God is bringing him to Severns Valley. “Dr. Woods’ greatest desire is to reach the lost for Christ and his method is to teach proper discipleship as we look for daily opportunities to share the Gospel, not in just what we say, but in everything we do.”
Gray agrees with the assessment. “Dr. Woods is not only an excellent preacher and teacher but also an evangelistic leader. My prayer is that God will use him to help Severns Valley continue to impact their community with the gospel.”
Woods, a U.S. Army veteran, was born into an Army family stationed at Fort Knox. He says the call to pastor near his birthplace is bittersweet for him, his wife, Tracy, and their three sons. “We love our friends at Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville. Leaving brings sadness to our hearts. Yet, we are excited to make new friends in Elizabethtown and be a part of the Hardin County community.”
Wilson says the church is also ready for Woods to begin serving.
"Severns Valley Baptist Church has a rich history. We are thankful for how God has watched over us for the last 239 years," he said. "We're thankful for what He has done in and through us for His glory, but there is an excitement in the air about what God has planned for us in the future. We can't wait to see what God has planned for us through the leadership of Pastor Curtis and the power of the Holy Spirit."
Woods says relationships are foundational for the way he plans to lead the church, “I am overwhelmed by the prospect of seeing Severns Valley become one of the most holistically, passionate churches for evangelism and discipleship through the means of spiritual friendship. My vision is for us to love God, love people, and make disciples by cultivating a culture of grace.”