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First Baptist Church of Shelbyville has called a new senior pastor to lead the more than 700 people in its congregation.
Dr. Steve Rice of Floyd County was announced as the new pastor last Sunday after being affirmed by 99.3 percent of the voting church members.
Rice said he and his family are thankful for the unity in the church's calling him to be their pastor.
He said having such a high percentage of the congregation vote in favor of a prospective pastor "is some what uncommon in a church that size."
His first day at the church is Oct. 27, and his first Sunday sermon will be Nov. 2.
The church has been without a senior pastor since last November, when Dr. Ed Erwin left his post to be a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
Church personnel said Rice's education and qualifications are exactly what they were looking for in a new pastor.
Rice is a graduate of Morehead State University and Luther Rice Seminary, and he received his doctorate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has served as pastor of three Baptist churches in Kentucky during the past 20 years, most recently as the senior pastor of Williamstown Baptist Church in Northern Kentucky.
Before becoming a pastor, he taught in the public school system as a Band Director.
Since January 2007, Rice has been on staff with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He currently serves as Director of Discipleship and Assimilation.
In that role Rice teaches churches across the state how to encourage and train new Christians in the faith and how to help new members connect with the church.
Rice said though he enjoyed his time at the convention, God has called him to be a pastor.
"As a pastor you are working with people on a daily, intimate level," he said. "Although we enjoyed our time with the KBC, I knew that my place is shepherding the flock."
Rice, who described himself as a "young 49," said he has a deep sense of God's calling him to First Baptist.
He said what he loves about being a pastor is caring for the people.
"I will focus on church health, church balance and the Biblical purposes for the church that the Lord has set out for us," he said.
Rice said those purposes are worship, discipleship, evangelism, ministry and fellowship.
He and his wife, Laura, have three children, Matthew, Lauren, and Andrew, who range in age from 16 to 23.