Originally printed in the December Explorer.

I often refer to books in my sermons. Books are my tools. From them I am able to leverage ideas and piece together words that become, I hope, useful in your effort to build a Christian life and our work to fashion a church that pleases God.

It is no surprise to you, therefore, when I recommend a book, though you may be surprised by the one I recommend to you now.

The title is The Pulpit Ministry of the Pastors of River Road Church, Baptist. Fresh off the press last week, this is a collection of 30 sermons, six messages from each of the five pastors who have served this church since its founding in 1945.

All of my predecessors have been outstanding preachers and manned the River Road pulpit with dignity, wisdom and power. I was blessed to hear my immediate two predecessors, Vernon Richardson and Jim Slatton, preach here on numerous occasions. Though I never heard them, by means of this volume I am able to see why River Road Church got its start fine beginning under David Browning and grew quickly under the ministry of Woodrow Hasty. Both were thoughtful preachers.

Dr. Bill Tuck assumed the task of editing this retrospective work. He enlisted the assistance of the photography of Warren Johnson and the editing skills of Barbara Jackson, and he spent many hours shifting through our archives to select most of the sermons collected in the book. Our Endowment Fund underwrote the initial expenses of the effort.

Over the next few weeks we will be selling the books at a cost of $15. Proceeds from the sale of the book will not go to the editor or the preachers, but will be used in the ministry of our church. We will have the books available beginning December 9 at the reception following worship.

Someone once observed that “printed sermons are like pressed flowers.” Thankfully, the sermons of my predecessors still carry the full aromas and vivid colors of grace that infused them on the day they were delivered.