By Bill Webb
Harland Ginn brought the Senior Adult Sunday message at Second Baptist Church of Liberty on Sept. 14, but he had no idea what was in store at the conclusion of the second morning service.
That’s when interim pastor Michael Olmsted asked Ginn to return to the platform with his wife, Frances, and recognized Ginn for 60 years in pastoral ministry.
Olmsted presented the retired minister with a framed rendition of the Liberty congregation’s historic building and praised him for more than six decades of service to northwest Missouri churches.
He is a member of Second Baptist, Liberty, and a member of the choir.
It was a fitting conclusion to Ginn’s message — particularly directed to seniors — regarding his own “birth story,” based on accounts passed down from his parents and other relatives.
As he described it, relatives made their way to the farmhouse where Ginn’s mother was in labor, braving wintry temperatures and muddy roads to be present, and each character in Ginn’s birth story had his or her distinct memory of his birth.
Ginn went on to describe the influence of relatives and others in bringing him into contact with the church and helping him make life decisions, including finding his way to William Jewell College and later preparation for the ministry.
Through the years, many of the people who encouraged him were senior adults, Ginn said. Their influence helped change his life for the better.
Referencing the Steve Green song “Find Us Faithful,” Ginn spoke directly to the seniors when he quoted, “We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road, and those who've gone before us line the way, cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary, their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way, may the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”
“Let us have a heritage of faithfulness,” he challenged the congregation.
When the service concluded, members of the church streamed forward to greet the honored couple.
“It was indeed a surprise,” Ginn said later. “I felt really honored; the people were very responsive.”
Upon his graduation from Jewell in 1948, the church that he had served as a music and youth minister while in college — First Baptist, Cameron — ordained him and he began work at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kan., toward a bachelor of divinity degree. He graduated in 1951. He began his pastoral ministry in 1948 at Alanthus Baptist Church in Stanberry.
Ginn also was pastor of the First Baptist churches of Hardin, Excelsior Springs and Camdenton, and he served Winnwood Baptist Church in Kansas City. The latter was his longest pastorate (1965-91).
Since his retirement in 1991, the long-time pastor has served 13 congregations as interim pastor. When he turned 82, he decided to back off of interims, but he still does supply preaching from time to time.
For four years, Ginn served as moderator in Clay-Platte Baptist Association. He also served on the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention. He has preached in Australia, Taiwan and England.
Above: Michael Olmsted (right), interim pastor at Second Baptist Church of Liberty, surprises Harland Ginn (left), later making a presentation noting his 60 years in pastoral ministry after Ginn preached the morning sermon on Senior Adult Sunday. With them are Ginn's wife, Frances, who was also presented with a gift. (Photo by Bill Webb.)