By Charlotte Blasingame
This week I am profiling a well-known face around town that you would might like to know more about.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama at West End Baptist Hospital to parents attending Parkview Baptist Church, Bill Hand,states it did not hurt to have the Christian Baptist heritage. His Dad grew up in a poor environment and learned at an early age in life how to work hard. He eventually, would come to faith as a man and convinced that life was to be lived in fellowship with other Christians.
His Mother’s family was a part of their little church close to Legion Field in Birmingham. He feels it is from her family he inherited the Williams sense of humor, just dry enough to make you stop and think twice.
As a child, he grew up in Ensley Highlands on the West side of Birmingham where many worked in the Steel Mill and families seemed like those on wholesome TV shows, as he likes to refer to it! He very much enjoyed attending Public schools especially grades 5-8 in a class that students stayed with one teacher in a Pilot program of the school system. While attending Ensley High School where his Mother has previously attended, he was elected Student Body President even though he considered himself more of a bookish nerd and shy!
Bill was always a Bama fan but, since everyone thought he would become an Engineer or Scientist, Auburn University was the place he needed to attend!. Immersing himself in Electrical Engineering studies, alternating a quarter of study with a quarter working in cooperative education with Alabama Power. He anticipated working for the power company after graduation since his soon to be wife was working for them as well.
Their junior year at Auburn Bill and Laura married but during his Senior year, he felt God calling him to Pastor, primarily through a desire to have the Bible speak for itself and not use its verses to say what he felt like saying. He says it is a very high calling and he has never felt adequate, saying Paul Tells us “that any adequacy we have must come from God.”
After graduation he moved to Fort Worth, Texas to attend Southwestern Theological Seminary where he earened a Masters of Divinity. After the birth of their first born daughter and his ordination to the gospel ministry, he answered God’s call to be the pastor of his first church the Upper Queen and King Baptist Church in Newtown, Virginia founded in 1774, the oldest of all the churches he has served.
His wife Laura prayed for God to send them East of the Mississippi, carrying them from being 8-9 hours from Birmingham to being 13-14 hours east. He feels the Lord’s sense of humor is perfect like everything else about him. Newtown was a great place to begin pastoring where in that state Bill became passionate about religious liberty.
While there twin daughters were born increasing the number in their family. After three years in the old Dominion, Bill and his family moved to Alexandria City, Alabama in 1983 to pastor the Hillabee Baptist Church. Pastoring there he states many good friends were made. Five years later Bill moved once again to Montgomery, Alabama to pastor Valley Park Baptist Church. Less than two years he was called to pastor First Baptist Church in Ashford, Alabama where he remained 10 years.
During those years his parents health issues increased with his Mother being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and his Dad with Alzherimer’s. Through an unusual series of events and connections they were placed in contact with First Baptist Church in LaFayette. His Mother’s health had improved briefly but began a slow decline until her death in February 2001.
Considering himself again a city boy from the Western Hills of Birmingham, Alabama has loved living in this much smaller city with its remarkable history and it’s very own polychromatic pallet of personalities. His hopes for the next few years is to help guide LaFayette First Baptist in bringing greater blessings as we seek to grow in our making and developing disciples.
Bill loves reading especially theology, philosophy, leadership and history, stating he also enjoys photography and computers as well as finding leads on his family history.
He and Laura have a grandson who was born in Istanbul and a granddaughter in Opelika. He says these days their grandchildren are a major source of joy in their free time, as you can see in his picture they are enjoying grandkids at Jack O Lantern Lane a while back.
Bill still believes in the certainty of Jesus in all we do, the power of the word to speak and join us in fellowship with God, the necessity of the spirit for all of life, the call for us to genuinely love sinners, the need for us to grow fully committed disciples and to be salt and light in the world by God’s design, the value of each person God has made (even those very different from oneself), the awesome beauty of worship when one loses himself in it and the Providence of God. Finally, Bill stated he marvels at God’s humor especially that he would call someone like him into ministry.