Pastor looks ahead to retirement at Woodridge Baptist Church in Kingwood
After serving as the pastor of Woodridge Baptist Church in Kingwood for the past 25 years with a total of 31 years in ministry, one of the things Greg Wallace will miss the most is hugging fellow church members each Sunday before the service starts.
“Before service, I like to put myself in the three atriums that come together and make people come to me; I like to hug you before I preach to you,” Wallace said.
Wallace first announced his intentions to retire in September 2015 and, since then, the church has worked on transitioning to a new pastor while Wallace began his shift into retirement.
The church hosted a special retirement celebration for Wallace and his wife, Karon, Sunday, Dec. 4, where church members could share stories about Wallace and his impact on their lives.
According to information shared by Woodridge Baptist Church, “Along the way, Wallace has shared his enthusiasm for evangelism and missions, leading teams to work with numerous churches on several continents and encouraging local churches to love their community in the name of Christ.”
Wallace surrendered to the ministry in 1983 at a small church in Childress, Texas, from 1985-1987 until they moved back to the Atascocita area where he was the founding pastor of First Baptist Church of Atascocita. It was a year later, in July 1992, when he was approached with the opportunity to preach at the then-Willow Terrace Baptist Church.
Woodridge Baptist Church was originally constituted as Willow Terrace Baptist Church until 1991 when a group of families remained with the church, helping to transition the church into Woodridge Baptist Church.
Wallace, a founding member of First Baptist Church of The Woodlands, agreed to become the church’s bi-vocational pastor for six months. His first Sunday was August 1992 and there were 41 people at the church service that Sunday morning.
It became more than a six-month pastorship for Wallace as the church began to grow.
“That’s who we were,” Wallace said. “The company I worked for at that time was a regional company and went public in 1995, so basically, from August 1992 to December 1999, I got home mid-afternoon on Thursdays, completed church work Thursday night, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“Every Sunday night, I would leave to go to wherever the location was we were working that week. The key that we always said that still rings true today is that it doesn’t matter who does the ministry as long as the ministry is done.”
They began to grow even more rapidly from there.
In 1994, the first building for Woodridge Baptist Church, known as the shelter, was built. The education building was constructed in 1996; the gym, as well as the nursery and kitchen were built around 2000, and the main administration building was built around 2006.
“God really blessed us; we have a great group of people,” Wallace said. “God used my business sense, public speaking abilities, my organizational skills and financial abilities to grow the church. It’s been a great 25 years. We focused on our community.”
In addition to church services, Kingwood High School and middle schools use their buildings for various functions and the local home-school networking organizations use the campus every Friday for Homerun Ministries.
Throughout Wallace’s 25 years at Woodridge Baptist Church, there have been a lot of changes, especially with the growth in the community and digital additions to services such as videos complementing the service and social media.
“Just like the world has changed, the church has changed,” Wallace added. “I’m a small town, country boy from the central part of Arkansas, so my perspective is different. We’ve always embraced the old, but always welcome the new. The key thing is to communicate the gospel; we preach the Bible, teach the Bible and always remain focused on the gospel. The church has been a tremendous advocate for reaching everyone.”
During his time, they have had more than 600 individual church members go on mission trips in the past 25 years. They have helped to provide church roofs for more than 100 churches in Kenya for the Maasai people, and they paid for the building of 19 churches for the Kuna Indians and active in church starting and building in Mexico.
“Over the past few weeks with my retirement around the corner and the celebration, I have had families and individuals share with me the impact I have made through their lives, which tells me that if we have done anything, we have been consistent for 25 years,” Wallace said. “I think people feel loved and wanted when they walk through our doors. It’s been fun.”
One of the funny stories Wallace recounted was the time the church purchased 1,000 pregnant goats during a mission trip for the Maasai people and filmed their experiences. When they showed the video back at home in the church, all the church members could hear were the goats bleating throughout the video, but he said it is projects like this that have helped communities become more self-sufficient.
Upon retirement, Wallace plans to work on his golf game and plans to take a foundation he’s been working on to the next level.
“To me, it’s a story of obedience,” Wallace said. “I will miss opening the door to my office every day with my key; I love to work and come Jan. 2, I will get up in the morning and have no place to go. I traveled on high school mission trips and I will miss my high schoolers. I will miss my staff. When I told the church about my retirement plan, I said that our community has gotten younger and our church members are younger. We are a neighborhood church and our church needs a younger pastor to take our church to that next level. I am very excited about our new pastor and blown away that I can say he followed me. It’s another season of life.”
In Wallace’s footsteps, Dr. Jeremy Evans will assume the role as senior pastor at Woodridge Baptist Church starting Jan. 1, 2017.
For more information about Woodridge Baptist Church, visit www.woodridge.org/.