A new chapter in the life of Arden Road Baptist Church of Amarillo, Texas, began Sunday, September 27, 2015, when the position of pastor was passed to Bro. Aaron Denson from Bro. Dale Bigham, who had served the church for 34 years. Pastor Bigham, his wife, Janet, and their three young children began ministry in Amarillo on November 2, 1981, when he accepted the position of pastor at Grace Baptist Church, which relocated five years later and became Arden Road Baptist Church.
At that time, Grace Baptist had been struggling to find a pastor and Bro. Bigham had been in a personal struggle being content as a youth director. He attended a fellowship meeting in Amarillo, heard a prayer request about Grace Baptist needing a pastor, and a desire grew in his heart. He asked his pastor about it and was encouraged to call the church. “There were 12 people present in the only adult class on the Sunday morning I candidated, and 26 members were present in the service when they voted to call me to be their pastor,” he said. “I do not remember the percentage but it was enough for me to come.”
Pastor Bigham said the Lord has been faithful to call “a good number” from Arden Road Baptist Church to full-time service, raise up a significant missions program, and establish a solid, sound congregation.
About two years ago, the Lord began confirming in Pastor Bigham’s heart that he should prepare the church for transition. He read books and attended one class and one conference on transition. He had a short list of projects he felt he needed to accomplish personally and for the well-being of the church, including updating the by-laws, adding missionaries on a waiting list, and other things only the Lord could accomplish, before announcing God’s leading in the transition. “Within the last 18 to 24 months of my pastorate, I saw the Lord accomplish the things only He could do, and that, in part, assured me this transition was of the Lord,” he said.
In May 2015, he made a confidential announcement of the coming transition to the deacons, who allowed him to recommend the first of three names the Lord had impressed on him. Interestingly, the first two men recently had been guest preachers in services at Arden Road. “I believe the Lord had already begun to work in the deacons’ hearts, and they contacted and began a series of meetings and conversations with Bro. Denson, the first man on the list and the only man they would meet with,” Pastor Bigham said. Twelve years earlier Pastor Denson had served six years as youth director at Arden Road and was well-known and loved by Pastor Bigham and many of the church family. Those who had not known him previously relied on their confidence in the leadership of Pastor Bigham and the deacons, and the deacons voted 98 percent to call Pastor Denson. “I suppose you could say that we have come full circle,” commented Pastor Denson, who had interned at Eastland Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, under Pastor Dave Hardy before moving to Amarillo to serve six years as youth director. “It was a blessed time and we felt that Arden Road had become our home church.”
Pastor Denson was ordained at Arden Road and sent out to pastor Highland Baptist Church in Hobbs, New Mexico. After six and a half years, the Lord moved the Densons to Bethany Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. “Every door that the Lord has led us through brought great friendships and innumerable blessings. We are indebted to every person who loved us and helped us along the way.”
Pastor Denson said Pastor Bigham called and through a process of time he felt the Lord leading him to pursue the opportunity at Arden Road. “The church voted and confirmed what God was doing in our hearts and lives,” he said. “It is an honor to follow the man I call pastor. By God’s grace it is our desire to carry on what God has been building for many, many years.”
Pastor and Mrs. Bigham plan to remain in ministry with a desire to assist other churches that may need interim help in the transition process.