Bewley retiring as Roan Street Church of God pastor

Published 2:25 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

Rev. Kenneth D. Bewley will be retiring as senior pastor of Roan Street Church of God on Sunday, February 7th after he and he wife have served the church for the last 31 years. A retirement luncheon will be held afterward in the church's fellowship hall.

Rev. Kenneth D. Bewley will be retiring as senior pastor of Roan Street Church of God on Sunday, February 7th after he and he wife have served the church for the last 31 years. A retirement luncheon will be held afterward in the church’s fellowship hall.

When God speaks and says, “Your time is finished,” then all one can do is obey His voice.
Such is the case for Roan Street Church of God’s senior pastor as Rev. Kenneth Dale Bewley will serve his church the final time as senior pastor on Sunday, February 7th after pastoring the church for 31 years. He has pastored for a total of 38 years.
Bewley was appointed to the church on February 1, 1985 by state overseer P.H. McSwain and moved his family to Elizabethton at that time to shepherd a congregation of around 60 people as he took over for Rev. Clyde Shankle.
He was no stranger to the area as his father, R.B Bewley, had pastored the Valley Forge Church of God for five years. Bewley attended Valley Forge Elementary and Hampton High School during that time.
His father then took over at Russellville and then Jellico Church of God. While attending Jellico High School, Bewley met a young lady who would turn out to be the love of his life and partner in ministry as Judy Raines stole his heart.
After getting married, the Bewley’s started the Bean Station Church of God on the burnt down site of an old furniture factory.
“Judy was pregnant with Missy and she was out there shoveling knee-deep ashes, sweeping, and cleaning to get ready to build the church,” said Bewley.
After a successful stint at the new church, Bewley was appointed to Mt. Vale Church of God in Jefferson Co. From there, he was placed over the Church of God Youth Camp grounds on Signal Mountain in Chattanooga for one and a half years.
It was after this time that McSwain sent Bewley to Elizabethton where he has remained.
Bewley was asked if he would have ever imagined staying at Roan Street that long.
“No, to be honest I didn’t want to preach—I didn’t want to pastor or be a preacher,” stated Bewley. “My dad was a pastor and I didn’t want to preach at all. I told him one time that I would rather dig ditches than preach.
“When I got saved, God changed all that,” added Bewley. “I didn’t think I would pastor this long—I didn’t even think that I would live this long. Back when you are a 25-year old, 67 looks like a thousand years away, but it’s just a brief time.”
There are a lot of memories that surround 31 years of service, and there are things that happen that will never be forgotten in accomplishments.
“I am proud that we got a fellowship hall because when I first came here, we were setting up tables and chairs down in the old hallway downstairs,” stated Bewley. “We were able to build a new fellowship hall and get it paid for.
“I am also proud that my son and daughter got saved in the parsonage most of all—that was the biggest accomplishment, and they were baptized here at the church. We also added the new addition onto the church. I am just really proud of all the people here.”
Pastoring has changed in a lot of ways since Bewley answered the call. He was asked what some of the challenges were facing pastors today.
“The challenges facing a pastor today is how to keep the people interested,” said Bewley when contemplating the question. “There are so many things out there for people—they can get church on the internet and they can get church on television.
“It’s just keeping the people committed and interested is the biggest thing,” added Bewley. “We are living in such a mobile society. And keeping people wanting a deeper relationship with God is a challenge as well.”
And it’s not just the challenges of being a pastor that pastors have to deal with anymore according to Bewley as the church has many issues they face.
“The challenge of the church is going to be that we have to reach young people some way,” stated Bewley. “If you look around at most of the churches in this city and country, it’s mainly older people. Somehow we are going to have to challenge the younger generation to get involved and get committed.
“A lot of the younger generation are involved, but just not committed. Let’s face it, church is not number one, number two, or number three. In my opinion, God should be first, your family should be second, and the church third on your list of priorities, but somehow church has slipped down to number eight or nine,” said Bewley.
“Church is not a priority any longer. Worship is no longer a priority. Getting time with God is no longer a priority. Being committed to God is not a priority anymore. We need to somehow shake the younger generation, and I don’t really know how to do that. I guess if I knew how, I wouldn’t be retiring,” he added.
Bewley was asked what he will take away from the years of serving God as a pastor.
“I am going to take away the fact that I have a treasure trove of friends here at Roan Street Church of God,” stated Bewley. “I’ve got people here who are more family than my extended family. That’s how close they are to me.
“I am going to take away the fact that I feel like I have done my best. I have not always done my best, but at the time I thought I was doing my best,” added Bewley. “When I walked away and looked back, I always thought that I could have done better.”
Bewley’s wife, Judy, has always being a hands-on partner in his ministry. He would be the first to admit that the statement behind every successful man there is a great woman is very true.
“My wife has been a big part of my ministry working with the kids and doing the things that she does with the ladies ministries,” he said. “She has been an absolute major part of my ministry, and I am proud of her. She has been a jewel, and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
He had some great advice for a young minister that was contemplating going into pastoring.
“I guess the first thing is to listen to God—pray and ask God’s guidance because without it you won’t ever make it,” said Bewley. “No matter how smart you are or how good your personality is you will never make it without listening to God.
“Let the Holy Spirit do the managing and be patient. There are too many guys who want to run in with all guns loaded and start doing things,” he added. “Most problems, but not all, can be solved if a man will be patient and let God work in the situation and solve the problem His way. If God has taught me one thing over the years it is to be patient.”
Bewley doesn’t have any major plans for retirement other than continuing to serve in some capacity to help other churches and coming back to be a member of Roan Street.
“I will still be district overseer for the time being, so I will be working in some of the other churches around in helping pastors with situations,” he stated.
“I am going to spend more time with my grandkids. I plan on me and my grandson, Elijah, going fishing. Other than that, I will work at home and enjoy myself. Judy’s got a whole list of things for me to do.”
The Bewley’s have two children—Missy Birdsong and husband Curtis and Jody Bewley, who pastors the Rhonda Church of God in Rhonda, NC along with his wife, Angie.
Pastor Bewley has four grandchildren—Elijah and Carter Birdsong and Leanna and Connor Bewley.
The church is inviting all who have attended Roan Street Church of God during the Bewley’s tenure to come and worship with them in their last service as senior pastors. There will be a luncheon held afterward in the church’s fellowship hall.

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