Brother Richards

Brother Richards has joined his Savior in heaven. Please pray for the family and friends as they grieve this great loss. To honor his memory, I’m posting a recent article from One Magazine that includes a great interview with brother Richards.

A Hundred (and Two) Years of Wisdom

An interview with Rev. Walter H. Richards

“With the 100th issue of ONE Magazine approaching, I thought it would be interesting to hear from a centenarian, so I traveled to Texas to interview Walter H. Richards, likely the oldest living Free Will Baptist preacher. Throughout his life, he pastored exclusively in Texas, and all were small churches.

With Mr. Richards quickly approaching 102 years of age (January 14), I didn’t know what to expect. But the sparkly senior quickly set me straight: “I don’t hear so good anymore, and I don’t see so good. I might get a little confused about what I had for breakfast, but if you get me started in the right direction, I still talk well about the past.”

True to his word, Mr. Richards did talk well. Once he heard my questions (sometimes a challenge), his answers were quick, direct, and full of good humor. Enjoy the following excerpts from our conversation.

—Eric Thomsen, Managing Editor, ONE Magazine


How long have you been a Free Will Baptist?

Since 1946—75 years. I pastored 65 of those years. Preached ‘til I was 99. But I’m retired now. Someone once asked me, “If you weren’t Free Will Baptist, what would you be?” I told him, “I’d be ashamed.”

The denomination has really helped me and stood by me. I’m so grateful to be a Free Will Baptist.

I understand you attended Free Will Baptist Bible College [now Welch College]. What do you remember about those days?

I graduated from the college in 1949. I was a little older than most of them. I only started pastoring after I got out of the Navy. The Lord called me to preach, and, pretty quick, I saw that if I was going to preach, I needed some help. I was a sixth-grade dropout, and college was hard! But I stuck it out.

I remember Charley Thigpen* especially. He was so influential. He came during my second year there. He was a great friend. I remember going to the train station to pick him up when he arrived.

You mentioned the Navy. When did you serve?

I’m one of the few living WWII veterans. Served in the Pacific.

Do you remember the first sermon you preached?

The first sermon? Sure do. It was the old First Church in Bryan, Texas. The pastor had his tonsils removed and couldn’t preach. Asked me to preach for him on Sunday night. I went to my older brother and got some pointers. I preached for a whole five minutes before I ran out of things to say. I told the Lord if He saw fit to give me the opportunity, I’d sure like another try. And He let me keep trying for the next 65 years.

I remember my last sermon, too. I was 99. I preached on how to know God: get in the Word and visit with Him often. I even preached one time at the National Convention. Brother Carl Cheshier asked me to preach the “moderator’s message” for him in Atlanta.** That was one of my greatest honors.

While I don’t pastor today, I still attend church faithfully, pay my tithes, and try to help in any way I can. I have a very active prayer list. I pray more now than I’ve ever prayed, from an hour to an hour-and-a-half every day. I pray for people specifically, by name. I pray for our churches; I pray for our pastors. I have one son, and he’s a pastor too. I’m so proud of him.

I may not be a pastor, but I am still faithful to tell people about the Lord. I get regular visits from Home Health. Not one of them comes through my door without hearing, “Do you know the Lord? Are you a Christian?”

What was your favorite book of the Bible to preach from?

John. No question, it was John. I admire John above the other disciples. And he shared so many good, practical things in his writing. Not just spiritual, but practical. How to live!

What advice would you give a young preacher?

Get in the Word! Stay in the Word! Preach the Word! Oh, and keep better records than I did. I can’t tell you how many weddings and funerals I did, but after 65 years of preaching, it was a whole bunch. I just wish I could remember them all.

How has church changed since you began preaching?

Oh, my! It has changed tremendously. People are so busy and sometimes too busy for the important things. Too busy for church. Too busy for each other. That concerns me.

What would you say to today’s Free Will Baptists?

It’s pretty simple. Get in the Word. Pray honestly for everything. Jesus will meet every need in our lives when we just turn our lives over to Him. Let Him lead, and you will have the greatest adventure you can imagine.

What are your thoughts as you look back on your long life?

My wife [Margaret] and I were married 73 years and eight days. I miss her. She was a good wife. Always made me smile to hear the kids at church call her “Mrs. Preacher.” I have two great children: my son Walter and my daughter Marilu. It has been a good life.

I’m ready to go whenever the Lord wants, but I turned my life over to Jesus a long time ago, and I don’t think he’s quite done with me yet. But when I go, I’ll go happy for every experience He gave me. Anything and everything good that I accomplished, Jesus helped me. Anything and everything good in my life, Jesus did it!

*Dr. Charles (Charley) Thigpen became the dean and later the president of Welch College from 1979-1989. He also served as the denomination’s moderator from 1954 to 1960, the youngest man ever to serve in that role. He died in late 2020 at age 94.

**Carl Cheshier served seven years as the moderator of the National Association and nine years as the assistant moderator. He honored Rev. Richards by asking him to deliver the opening message (the moderator’s message) of the convention business session at the 1999 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.”

About the Author: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Email:

Welch Enrollment Dips amid COVID

Oct 5, 2021

” GALLATIN, TN—Welch College enrolled 336 students for the fall semester 2021, according to Matthew McAffee, Provost of Welch College, a nearly 6 percent drop from last fall’s enrollment. This marks the second year in a row that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on enrollment. 

“We’re grateful for the Lord’s guidance as we have weathered the challenges of a global pandemic,” McAffee said. “While enrollment has not yet bounced back to pre-COVID norms, it demonstrates a stabilizing effect from the fallout created by a worldwide pandemic. Our fall numbers signal His continued providential care and our institutional health.” 

Traditional dormitory enrollment declined the most, owing to the lack of normal recruiting last year because of COVID-19, as well as last year’s larger-than-normal graduating class. Graduate studies, adult and online studies, and dual enrollment showed gains. 

“All in all, despite traditional enrollment being down, this year represents some enrollment stabilization,” McAffee explained. “While our first COVID fall enrollment last year drove full-time equivalency (FTE) enrollment down from 307 to 254, a drop of more than 17 percent, this year the FTE enrollment was down only 5.5 percent.”

At press time the college reported 135 dormitory students, 46 commuter students, 37 graduate students, 25 Adult Studies students, 42 Online Studies students, and 60 dual enrollment students. Full-time equivalency (FTE) was 240 students. Total enrollment statistics indicate students from 18 states, one territory, and four foreign countries. 

This fall 70 new students enrolled in traditional on-campus programs at Welch, an increase over last fall’s number of new students, which was 63. “The last year-and-a-half has created challenges for higher education, especially at small Christian colleges that enroll a lot of out-of-state students, and Welch is no exception,” President Matt Pinson said. “But God has taken care of us, and he continues to provide for our needs.”

“We’re thankful for all of our incoming students,” Pinson continued. “Students are so positive about life at the college and in the classroom, and they’re hopeful about the future. COVID has had a negative impact on enrollment. Schools like ours have had a tough time during COVID, not being able to send recruiters out or have big on-campus recruitment events for so long because of the pandemic. Yet things are stable, and we’re praying for an even greater return to normalcy next year.”

For more information about Welch College, email or visit the college’s website at “

Welch College is a Christian college in Gallatin, Tennessee. © 1942–2021 Welch College. All rights reserved.

Randall House Resource

Randall House to release Equipping Fathers to Lead Family Worship

“(Nashville, Tennessee) On October 29, 2021, Randall House, Ken Coley, and Blair Robinson will release Equipping Fathers to Lead Family Worship.

About the book: Equipping Fathers to Lead Family Worship offers a historical, theological, biblical, and pedagogical text that focuses on the responsibility that Christian fathers have to lead their families in the worship of God. The book is for use in local churches and Christian households and is meant to serve as a resource to assist pastors and leaders to equip fathers and family household leaders with personal and family worship practices.

Features include: The book offers a biblical overview of the responsibilities given to fathers to practice as they lead their families in the worship of God. It provides a review of historical practices of family worship, a description of worship elements for the family, and training for teaching children in the home. In the book, you will find recommendations of training propositions for pastors as they equip fathers and household leaders in the church.

About the author: Kenneth Coley, Ed.D. is senior professor of Christian Education at Southeastern Seminary, where he is the director of the Ed.D. Program. He has authored or edited seven books, including Teaching for Change: Eight Keys for Transformational Bible Study with Teens, published by Randall House.”

Blair D. Robinson, M.Ed., D.Min. is the associate pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Contact: Lena Wooten

               Director of Marketing

                (615) 361-1221 ext. 308


You May Need to a follow Up on Your Truth and Peace Application


“We are so sorry, but due to a glitch in the cognito forms, applications for Truth & Peace input between August 1 and September 30 have been lost. Please send your confirmation information that was sent to you when you applied to:

The application will be re-entered and it will not affect anything else.

If you have any questions, please send an email to”

Men’s Conference Date Change

Hi everyone,

Sharing with you an announcement from the Christian Education Board regarding the Men’s Conference originally scheduled for this fall:

Due to lack of registration, we have decided to return the Men’s Conference to the more typical date of March 4-5. We believe that with a few more months of promotion and reminding that we will pick up a few more men. The speakers (Wes Hood and John Bivens) and the location (Lakehills FWB) will remain the same.

Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend in March!

Marcus Brewer

Moderator/State Office Coordinator

Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists