I was just thinking about a friend. Richard Walters, a longtime leader in the BMA of Arkansas and BMA of America, received his heavenly promotion on April 2 at the age of 90 years.
In previous articles, I have written about several men who were, in my opinion, trailblazers… patterns for ministry. Richard Walters was certainly one who was a trailblazer in our associated work.
Growing up in our neighboring state of Mississippi, Bro. Walters surrendered to the ministry call as an 18-year-old. Prior to becoming an Arkansan, he pastored churches in Louisiana and Texas. It was in Judson, Texas that he met Lynn, the lady who would become his wife; and they were married in 1952. The Lord blessed their home with three children.
I first met Bro. Walters in 1963, and I was immediately impressed with him. He was the epitome of a true Southern gentleman. His demeanor was that of a man who was confident, yet modest. He was an amazing preacher, keeping the attention of a young 17-year-old each night of the revival. In the 57 years I knew him, he never changed.
For 27 years, Bro. Walters was the much-loved pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Little Rock. Under his shepherding ministry, the church grew continuously. Year after year, he was the cordial host of the Annual BMAA Missions Symposium, as well as meetings of the BMA of Arkansas Missionary Committee. The missions-hearted pastor continually led the missions-minded church to be a leader in supporting missions around the world.
During my ministry, I have often said that Jesus did not merely practice what He preached — He preached what He practiced. That was also the mantra of Richard Walters. He was stalwart in his teaching of the Word, and that was because what he practiced in his daily life was reflected in what he preached from the pulpit.
I said that Bro. Walters was a trailblazer, and indeed he was! While at Temple, one of the fine laymen of the church, C.E. (Doc) Toland, asked him to be the institutional chaplain for Affiliated Foods Southwest. That brought Bro. Walters the distinction of being the first of many in Arkansas who would serve companies as chaplains.
As I mentioned, Bro. Walters was modest. Despite being admired by so many, he never thought more highly of himself. I think that character quality, in addition to his vast biblical knowledge and pastoral experience, drew numerous young preachers to count him as their mentor.
Following his retirement from the pastorate of Temple, I had the privilege of being Bro. and Mrs. Walters’ pastor when I was the missions pastor of Chenal Valley Baptist Church in west Little Rock. His kindness and encouragement will always be treasured. However, it wasn’t long until Bro. Walters accepted the pastorate of College View Baptist Church in Magnolia; and after he left there, he retired permanently.
The man may have grown up in Mississippi, but Richard Walters became a true Arkansan. He left his mark — his trail, if you please — on the BMA of Arkansas. He served the churches as moderator of the state association, trustee of Central Baptist College, mentor to many, pastor to hundreds and a brother in Christ to thousands
No two pastors are alike — each has his own personality, his own abilities and his own manner of ministry. None should ever attempt to be a clone of another, but certainly there are those whose ministries are excellent patterns to follow. Such was the pattern given by Richard Lunnie Walters.