A lifetime of preaching and teaching

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As a small-town boy who enjoyed farming on an Owen County dairy farm in Spencer, James L. Ranard never imagined he would plant his dreams in serving the church.

Now he is a semi-retired, 72-year-old minister, bearing the looks of someone half his age, yet still retaining the youthful vigor to do the Lord’s work.

Freedom Baptist Church will have an open house and reception 2-4 p.m. Sunday to celebrate Ranard’s 50 years of service as an ordained minister.

Although Ranard has been an ordained minister for 50 years, he has been doing ministerial work for 57 years, ever since he was 15 years old. He became a Christian his freshman year when he was attending Spencer High School in 1953, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year that he felt a calling from God to be a minister.

“I had an overwhelming awareness that my life would change,” he said. “I just had this knowledge that I was directed towards being a speaker and a pastor.”

To achieve this dream, Ranard attended pastoral training at Tennessee Temple Bible College at Chattanooga, Tenn. After spending several years in Chattanooga, he returned to Indiana to become a pastor at New Providence Church near Greencastle. He was then asked to be ordained by the White Lick Baptist Association of Churches on May 12, 1962. Ranard later attended American Divinity School in Chicago, where he graduated with a bachelor of divinity degree in 1966.

After his ordination, Ranard served as a minister and an interim pastor at several churches such as Fulton Baptist Temple of Faith, First Baptist Church of Rushville and Barboursville Baptist Church. In 1973, he moved to Crawfordsville where he ministered for First Baptist Church for nearly 24 years.

Although he has experienced his share of trails and tribulations, Ranard said the good times outweighed the bad.

“I enjoy very much preaching and teaching and the relationship that I develop with people while ministering them in their times of need,” he said. “There are a lot of ups and downs to helping people and caring for people, but helping others establish a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most rewarding.”

Ranard also invested a lot of his time in missionary work. He was a member of the American Baptist Colloquium Pastors that served 25 American Baptist Missionary Support Organizations throughout the United States. He assisted in leading several missionary work and partaking in tours to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Although he retired 15 years ago, Ranard is still willing to dedicate the rest of his life into being a minister. He is now an interim pastor for Freedom Baptist church, where he has been serving since July 2009. He anticipates drawing more youths into the ministry, perhaps because he was very young himself when he became interested.

“I encourage young people to consider working in the ministry,” he said. “I have already brought a lot of young people in the ministry and church-related careers.”

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