After serving as pastor for 25 years at St. Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church in Denton, the Rev. Lloyd Pullam retired last month.
Pullam, whose new title is pastor emeritus, has been declining in health since suffering a stroke three years ago.
“It paralyzed the left side of my body, and I am left-handed,” Pullam said. “While not wonderful, it’s a blessing that it happened the way it did. It’s the right side that controls my thinking and speaking, so I am grateful [the right side wasn’t affected].”
The stroke the 66-year-old suffered might have slowed him down a little, but it’s not stopped his love of preaching the word of God. Preaching, Pullam said, is something he was called to do more than 40 years ago.
Originally from Corpus Christi, Pullam found his way to North Texas by way of the U.S. Air Force where he “officially accepted” his calling.
“I went to college, worked on school a little and decided I wanted to do something different. So I joined the U.S. Air Force. It was there, I worked with the chaplain service,” Pullam said.
While at Carswell Air Force Base, now known as Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth/Carswell Field, he learned about the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He first earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in religion from the University of Corpus Christi, which is now Texas A&M University Corpus Christi; then he enrolled in Southwestern.
After completing his master’s in religion at Southwestern, he landed a job as pastor at the Second Baptist Church in Seguin.
“I was only the eighth pastor to serve there in the church’s 112-year history and I was the youngest,” Pullam said proudly.
From there, he went to serve at the Greater Worth Hill Missionary Baptist Church for eight years in Fort Worth.
“It was in 1988 when we moved to Denton, when I noticed they had a vacant opening,” Pullam said. “I wanted to move to St. Emmanuel because I knew there were two colleges and there would be lots of impressionable youth around.”
Youth is something Pullam believes is truly the heart of future and is why a church-mentoring program is something he recalls as one of his greatest memories over the past 25 years.
“I always wanted to work with youth and being here [at St. Emmanuel] allowed me really to do that.”
Couples at the church “adopt” a student and the student will spend holidays and weekends with their “adopted” church family if their biological family is too far away or they can’t go home to see them.
“It’s a support system, and we can minister quicker here than their parents way back home,” Pullam said.
He said that sometimes he’s seen rewards from those efforts.
“A couple years ago, one of the kids we had a hand in with ministering came back to the church for a visit,” Pullam said. “Turns out, he became a doctor in the Houston area and he wanted to give back to show his appreciation. He has been sending monthly donations to the church for the past two years for support.”
People and stories like that, Pullam said, are very rewarding.
“I am always glad to know we had a hand in the development of anyone. When they have done good, it makes it that much more of a gift,” Pullam said.
He hasn’t stopped spreading the word just because he is retired.
“I’ve already signed up as my own nonprofit ministry,” Pullam said.
He will use his extra time to focus more on helping younger pastors — something he believes is a much-needed resource.
With all his experience, contacts and skill, the longtime pastor said he hoped to be able to provide young pastors with the direction they are looking for.
Direction, Pullam said, is something he didn’t have much of when he got out of school and was a young pastor himself.
“A true leader needs direction,” he said. “What’s a congregation without direction? I’ll continue to provide and give, as much as God allows.”
Pullam has been married to his wife, Janice, for nearly 40 years and they have three children and five grandchildren.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .