ELYRIA, Ohio—John Greening, national representative of the GARBC, announced the 2009 Service Awards during the closing session of the GARBC conference. Recipients were nominated by members of their own churches. These awards honor people who are active in building the body of Christ with passion, vision, and commitment.
Ted and Rose Ertle (Bethel Baptist Church, South Haven, Mich.) are serving the Lord through their interim pastoral ministry.
“As a friend who has closely viewed two of their interim ministries, and as a pastor who has accepted the call to a church following their interim service, I can vouch for their effective ministry,” says Pastor Greg White (First Baptist Church, Pana, Ill.). “They have prepared this church for a new pastor, as they have prepared many other churches.”
“Brother Ted’s saying, ‘In Christ, all our trials are temporary, all our blessings are eternal,’ continues to resonate in hearts. Ted and Rose faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ with a bold and loving testimony,” Pastor White says.
Pastor Aaron Hand (Calvary Baptist Church, Walnut, Iowa) had similar thoughts: “Prior to assuming the pastorate of my current church, Pastor Ertle was the church’s interim pastor. Our members have nothing but great things to say about the Ertles, and especially about Ted’s leadership. The church wasn’t in the greatest situation when Ted arrived, but when he left, the church was in great condition. He did an amazing work here. He is wise, humble, and godly.”
Rose Ertle reports that Ted has attended the GARBC Conference every year since 1962. He pastored four Regular Baptist churches for a total of 39 years. For 45 years, he has read through the Bible at least three times a year—”Only 10 chapters a day!” he says. He credits these disciplines as the only explanation for the Lord’s blessing upon his ministry of soon to be 50 years. His life verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
William R. “Bill” Fusco (Maranatha Baptist Church, Sebring, Fla.) has served the Lord with distinction in GARBC churches and GARBC-related ministries for nearly 60 years. Bill graduated from the Moody Bible Institute, where he met a lovely musician named Lorene Badger. They fell in love, married, and were blessed with four children—Judy, David, Ruth, and Daniel.
At the age of 24, Bill Fusco began the first of three pastorates. He ministered at Calvary Baptist Church of Sandusky, Ohio; Solano Regular Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz.; and Maranatha Baptist Church of Sebring, Fla. The Fuscos served as missionaries to Italy under Baptist Mid-Missions for three terms. Even though Bill was raised in an Italian family, the language was never spoken at home, so the Italian had to learn Italian! Due to his wife’s health problems, Bill moved his family to San Diego, where he served as western deputation secretary for Baptist Mid-Missions.
After more than 25 years of service with Baptist Mid-Missions, Dr. Fusco resigned to become president of Denver Baptist Bible College. It was during this time period that the Lord took Lorene Home to be with Him in April 1981.
“Bill is known for his integrity, godly character, and consistency in living the truths that he preaches,” says Pastor Tom Alexander, a longtime friend. “Bill has a pastor’s heart, a warm and gracious personality, a ready smile, and a keen sense of humor. He has distinguished himself over a long life of ministry as a faithful servant to the Lord and as a godly role model for all who have had the privilege of knowing him.”
Dennis and Barb McMichael (Faith Baptist Church, Streetsboro, Ohio) have worked faithfully as youth workers for 20 years at Faith Baptist. Dennis has served as deacon for 16 years and as chairman of the board for three terms.
The McMichaels have initiated three short-term youth missions trips, two of them to Japan to assist missionaries. This summer they are accompanying church teens to ABWE’s boot camp to prepare for an upcoming missions trip to Japan and are leading the teens on that trip.
Dennis and Barb have adopted a Chinese orphan who has special needs. She is now five years old and recently received Christ as Savior.
“As the McMichael family follows God’s Word and responds to our ministry, their spiritual growth has been a great encouragement to my wife, Beth, and me,” says Pastor Don Workman.
In addition to the McMichaels’ service in the church and in the home, the positive testimony of their faith impacts their insurance business and teaching position in the local public high school.
The Lord is blessing their ministry at church and in their careers. Their business has earned state and national honors for new growth and sales.
Jeff Willetts (Calvary Baptist Church, Bellefontaine, Ohio) is an excellent example of what a pastor should be. He loves his congregation and faithfully preaches and teaches God’s Word. He has a family who loves the Lord. Over the last 14 years he has served as pastor of Calvary Baptist with much success in leading the church, his pastoral staff, and the Christian school.
Jonna J. Green, a member of Calvary Baptist, says that Pastor Willetts is a person who thrives on spreading truth about the gospel.
“Whenever he counsels, he addresses the subject at hand by offering advice, not from himself, but straight from the Word of God. Wherever he speaks, in our own Logan County or overseas, his vision for spreading the gospel is evident,” Green says.
Whenever Pastor Willets encourages—whether rubbing shoulders with community leaders at Rotary Club or teaching fledgling Bible School students in Europe or the Middle East—he shares truth from God’s Word. Whenever he is serving on a council or on a university board, his leadership ability enables him to stand firm, strive to uphold the truth, and encourage unity. He is passionate about encouraging men, students, and children toward the Lord. He is currently pursuing classes in Biblical studies to deepen his knowledge of the truth so he can communicate it to others.
When responding to the notification of this award, Pastor Willetts wrote, “My wife, Kathy, is a big reason God has used me as He has.”