By Sheri L. Stuart, Staff Writer
Rev. Kenneth R. Gillard is only days away from turning the page to a new chapter in his life. On Saturday, April 27, the Flint native will be installed as the Pastor of Hill Road Baptist Church. The pastoral installation service will be held at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church, 1035 Carpenter Road, starting at 3 p.m.
Rev. Gillard said he had no idea a nudge he felt at 17-years-old while attending Flint Central was the beginning of his path to the pulpit. He simply wanted to be obedient to what God had planned for his life.
“There was just something on the inside that was an unrest. My original desire was to be a mortician. Everyone in school knew me as “the mortician” because my first car was a 1965 black Mercury. I always wore black suits and I always had a love for mortuary science,” he said.
“I was at church every Sunday. I was always involved in Sunday School, B.T.U. and youth fellowship, but there was something different and I didn’t really know what the difference was. All I knew was I just got a nudge. You’re called,” he explained.
Over the next several years, Rev. Gillard said he continued to study the Bible and sought counsel from visionaries like Dr. Ruben West and pastors like the late Rev. Dr. Roy I. Greer of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.
“Around the age of 22 or 23, I felt that same nudge again. So, I went to Pastor Greer and he said if there is anything else you can do, do it. So, I went to American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. I came back home. Another seven years went by, and this time I ran. I did everything I thought I could do, but there was no peace.”
Rev. Gillard said it was an evening revival service in April 1992 that ultimately set him on the path to his true calling. His mother, Effie Gillard, who was 81-years-old at the time, walked him to the alter and requested that Pastor Greer and a visiting evangelist pray for her son who she believed was ‘struggling with something’. In June 1992, Rev. Gillard finally accepted his call to the ministry.
Twenty-seven years have passed since that evening revival Rev. Gillard said he will never forget. He said his late mother, Effie, had made the difference in his life long before that night, however.
Today, he calls her “the gift” and a jewel of a woman who raised him in a Christian home and instilled in him the value of work, love and respect for all people. He was placed in her home as a foster child when he was just over a year old. He was stillborn and delivered prematurely with fetal alcohol syndrome. Consequently, he suffered many health challenges as a baby. At 8-years-old, he was given up for adoption and moved around to a few different foster homes. Rev. Gillard said he is eternally grateful that his first foster mother ultimately decided to adopt him. He was 9-years-old at the time, and Effie Gillard was in her 60s.
“She and her mother, who also helped raise me, were both widow women. In the late 60s and early 70s, that was not happening. But God,” he said.
Rev. Gillard said his vision as Pastor of Hill Road is to operate God’s way.
“It’s about kingdom, building the kingdom one family at a time. If I get the son, I believe that the daughter, the mother, all that’s connected will come because they see the change and I’ve already experienced this here at Hill Road. I baptized the son in October and he’s 11. The father came back and he joined in February.”
“I believe what the Word says. Folk may not read the Bible that you and I read, but they definitely read your walk. They definitely sense your spirit man. This generation is looking for real – from the youngest to the oldest. One thing that’s been instilled in me and that I know works is love. The love that people experience when they meet me was instilled in me by my mother, Effie,” he said.
Hill Road Baptist Church is located 3500 W. Hill Rd, Flint, MI 48507. Visit http://www.hillroadbaptistchurch.com/home.html for information on service times and upcoming events.