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Pastor of First Baptist Church retires after 33 years

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bill and Marie Cox in 2011.
(submitted photo)
After tenure of 33 years, the Rev. Bill Cox is retiring this Sunday to become a chaplain at Freeman Hospital in Joplin. Although his future residence plans are not settled at this time, the community will experience the changes as well as the congregation of the First Baptist Church. Bill and his wife, Marie, came to Nevada in 1979 when their twins, Buffie and Bonnie were about 6 years old and Amanda was about 3. Their son, Jamin, was born here in Nevada in 1981 so all the children have grown up, graduated from Nevada High School, and returned frequently for visits.

Bill, who was the son of a Southern Baptist minister, who was also a school teacher and administrator, graduated from Eldon High School. His father pastored the Hickory Hills Baptist Church near Eldon which Marie attended with her family. She graduated from Eldon High School in May 1971 and married Bill on Aug. 7 that same year, before they left for Bill to attend the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

After serving some small churches while in seminary including the Ilmo Baptist Church in the Bootheel of Missouri they came to Nevada in June 1979. Marie said her first impression was that the water was awful, but she immediately felt the warmth and receptiveness of the people. In addition to rearing the four children Marie worked as a nutritionist for about 10 years, but the last 22 years she has been with the Nevada Insurance Agency.

The Rev. Bill Cox and his wife Marie in 1983 with their children 10-year-old twins Buffie and Bonnie, 2-year-old Jamin and 6-year-old Amanda.
(Submitted photo)
Both Marie and Bill feel that the benefit of the long-term pastorate has been stability for the family. Although Bill mentions that since he had moved often as a child because of his father's ministry he knows he gained a lot of experiences and abilities because of learning to adapt to different locations. Although there are regrets at leaving, they both feel that they are ready for new adventures.

Bill has given this answer to how his church work changed through the years he has been in Nevada. "Computers have replaced typewriters! The ways of reaching people and providing ministry to them have changed. Of course, the Gospel remains the same but churches cannot do the same things in the same old ways if they want to make an impact on culture. Denominational-ism has changed. People are not tied to being a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. This era has been labeled by observers as a post-denominational era. People often look for a church that meets their needs or through which they can minister."

Bill was asked to name some of the accomplishments of the First Baptist Church during his tenure. "First, let me say I have been privileged to serve a great church and without people working together no accomplishment would have happened. The first thing that comes to mind is the re-location to our Highland Campus which was a major step for an historic church going back to 1858 and housed downtown since 1900. I would also say the development of a solid pastoral staff. When I came to Nevada, the church had basically me and one other person who led music and youth ministries. We now have a capable staff made up of a full-time lead pastor, education pastor, youth pastor, children's pastor and a part-time pastor to senior adults. Our starting a ministry of Celebrate Recovery has been a major help to persons in our region. Our children's ministry and youth ministry have exploded in recent years. The addition of an excellent children's wing in recent years has been phenomenal. And we have recently started a preschool."

Bill said that leaving the church after serving as pastor for more than 33 years is a bittersweet experience.

"I celebrate the many great memories through the past years and anticipate serving on the pastoral staff at Freeman Hospital in Joplin. However, saying goodbye to friends in the church and community is also a grief experience. I have told the First Baptist Churchers what I have said through the years: The best days of First Baptist Church are yet to come!"

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