Today, for the first time in a quarter century, Carrol Williams will be part of First Baptist Church of Huntsville not as a minister, but as another member of the congregation.
After 26 years of service to FBC Huntsville, Williams retired Dec. 31 from his position as Minister of Education.
For Williams, it’s the end of what he refers to as a second career. Though he was always faithful, and always devoted to church life, he didn’t become a full-time minister until he’d pursued a different career path for 24 years.
A native of Corpus Christi, Williams studied chemistry at the University of Corpus Christi (now Texas A&M Corpus Christi) and took a job as curator at what is now the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
Though he enjoyed his day job, Williams and his wife Carol also worked actively in their church life, teaching Sunday School at Second Baptist Church of Corpus Christi and doing vocational work.
“Carol and I have always been actively involved in the life of the church,” Williams said. “She was an interim youth minister at our church for 7 years, and I did a lot of vocational teaching. I had always had a lifelong dream of going to Pioneer (a mission organization in Montana). I thought I’d take retirement from the museum and go up there and do work.”
As Williams worked toward his goal of mission ministry, he began to feel the calling more intensely, so much so that even when he was offered the position of director at the museum where he’d spent his professional life, he declined in favor of ministry.
“I knew that if I did that I would never fulfill my dream of going to Pioneer Missions,” he said. “It seemed like the Lord led me to decide that now was the time to go into vocational ministry. Just on faith I accepted the challenge that God had for me.”
Shortly after retiring from museum work, Williams received a call from the pastor of FBC Huntsville, who offered him a job interview. Williams and his wife quickly fell in love with their new church family.
“Our first recollection of the church was of the auditorium decorated for Christmas,” Williams said. “It was so beautiful. The church extended a unanimous call to me, and my first Sunday as a minister here was Jan. 27, 1985.”
Throughout his time at FBC Huntsville, Williams’ main pursuit has been improving the educational capacities of the church. He’s worked to improve Bible Study programs, implemented special courses for seniors, children of divorced parents, newlyweds and various other special groups. He’s taken church members on mission trips throughout the United States. He’s even stood in as interim pastor when the church was without a full-time leader.
Carol has also spent much of her time taking on active roles in the church, standing by her husband throughout his various leadership roles. She’s taught Sunday School and Bible Study courses, visited the sick alongside her husband, and even driven fellow members of the congregation to doctor’s visits in Houston.
“Whatever it is that needed to be done, I’ve tried to be there to support Carrol and the church,” she said.
According to Williams, if not for his wife’s tireless support, he would have been unable to be so devoted to the FBC Huntsville congregation.
“If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have done all the things that I’ve done,” he said.
Even in retirement, Williams said he has many projects planned. Not only will he remain active in his church, but he’s also planned several books: one on Sam Houston’s journey to faith, a story that figures largely in FBC Huntsville’s history, one on the influence on American Baptists on Texas Baptist life and another on the history of FBC Huntsville.
“This church was in one of the 14 oldest churches in the state of Texas,” Williams said. “It was a very significant church in the early development of the state.”
When asked why, unlike many career ministers, Williams remained in the same church for his entire ministerial career, he said it always simply felt right.
“It just seemed that the Lord had a place for us,” he said. “We still have that call to minister to people. We just couldn’t leave the church and the people. We just felt that this is where God wanted us to be.”
First Baptist Church of Huntsville will host a public reception honoring Williams at its Family Life Center on Jan. 9 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.