EASLEY – After almost four decades, Easley Union Baptist Church will install a new senior pastor in a service Sunday evening.
The Rev. Artis J. Buford will be installed as the successor to the Rev. C.L. Cruell who has served as pastor of the church for 37 years.
“The church has seen a great deal of growth during that time from when it was that sanctuary,” Buford, the successor, said Tuesday from his office. He pointed out the window to a building less than half the size of the current facility. It is growth of building size and numbers of people and importance to the people it serves, Buford said.
His place in legacy of the church seems dramatic to him. Before the Rev. Cruell, the Rev. C.C. Stewart was pastor of the church for 29 years. “That goes back to 1947, just the two of them in that time,” Buford said.
Buford grew up in Kershaw and went to school at Newberry College as a music theory major, planning to attend law school.
“I passed the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and was accepted,” he said. “But during that same time I was wrestling with my calling. I had grown up a church kid, my father is a deacon and my mother is a Sunday school teacher, but I was going to become a lawyer, make some money.”
But he continued to question the idea of going into the church ministry.
“Finally my advisor told me that I shouldn’t go (to law school) unless I was focused on it. I took some time off and within about a year had decided to enter the ministry.”
He worked as a youth minster for a time and obtained his sanction from the church to become a minister.
During the time he was serving as a supply pastor at a church in Chester, the opportunity came together for him to be the main pastor of that church. It was a part-time position.
During that seven and a half years, he met his wife, Sharette, who had relatives who attended the church.
They now have a 21-month old daughter, Baylee.
The Sunday installation service will take place at Easley Union Baptist at 5 p.m.
“The best way I can explain it is that it is like a marriage between the pastor and the church,” Buford said. “There will be a time of worship, singing and preaching. City representatives have been invited to offer a greeting. Then there will be a formal charge to the pastor and the church with the pastor agreeing to listen to the voice of the Lord,” Buford said.
The moderator of the Gethsemane Baptist Association in Chester, the Rev Algerron Williams Sr., and the Rev. James Hallums , moderator of the Oolenoy River Baptist Association, will speak.