Rev. Rickey Houston: 15 years of tending his flock

Rev. Rickey Houston and First Lady Helen Houston were showered with gifts at their 15th anniversary celebration.

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

CLEARWATER — Rev. Dr. Rickey L. Houston celebrated his 15th anniversary as the senior pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church July 28.

The celebration started early Sunday morning when guest minister Craig E. White Sr., the senior pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Atlanta, brought down the house with a sermon anchored on Psalms 23.  It then moved to Banquet Masters in Clearwater where a packed room enjoyed great food, music and dance in the name of the Lord.

Deacon Breht Dennard presided over the affair with his folksy brand of humor, while Sister Jill Williams welcomed the guess to spend the afternoon with “a man after God’s own heart and his beautiful wife.”

Dr. Houston was born in Cherokee, Ala., and joined the United States Air Force after a year and a half of college in 1979. His first assignment as an administrative clerk took him MacDill Air Force Base. While stationed in Tampa, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management.

In 1986, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and served in various locations around the world. After more than 30 years in the air force, Rev. Houston retired in 2004.

In his spiritual career, Rev. Houston received his license to preach on Nov. 8, 1987, at the church he grew up in in Alabama. He was later ordained on Jan. 15, 1989, at Mt. Gillard Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

He and his wife Helen have been married for 38 years and have four daughters and a host of grandchildren. In between his military career and service to the Lord, he managed to obtain both masters and doctoral degrees.

His flock showed up and out! Tributes poured in from pecans to the latest digital Canon camera.

“I’m just blown away by everyone’s kindness, goodness, mercifulness and grace that you extend toward us,” said Rev. Houston.

He acknowledged all of the celery in the room, singling out Bishop Preston Leonard, who’s served the city for more than 60 years.

He thanked the First Lady for being by his side on their journey through life and paid tribute to his children.

“I loved them as much right now as I loved them the day that they were born and I first looked into their faces,” he said.

In his humbled grace, Rev. Houston said, “God truly smiled” on not only his immediate family but also his church family.

“We are honored to serve here in this city, and we are going to be here as long as the Lord says so,” Rev. Houston concluded, thanking the congregation for every gift and every prayer that has been given to them.

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