Ken and Kenny Stokes, respectively father and son, serve as pastor and associate pastor at Bethel Christian Church. The two talk about their deep respect and love for each other as describe how their partnership developed.
"I don't know that we always planned to work together," said Ken. "When Kenny was about 12, he led in junior church. He became a very accomplished pianist and accompanied me many times."
Son, Kenny, said, "I grew up under my father's leadership. We were always working at the church."
After Kenny started a family of his own, he moved to Covington. When another offer was made to move out of town, Ken hired his son as associate youth minister.
"I always felt that we would probably work together for most of our lives and the Lord just made it happen. It just seemed the normal thing to do."
It has been a good move.
"I have the greatest boss in the world, my dad," son Kenny said. "I think that the greatest aspect is that the devil isn't able to divide us. Many pastors and their associates have wedges driven between them. We understand each other and never have reason to doubt one another's intentions or motives."
Ken said, "Our ministries complement one another. Our vision is pretty much the same. Ken has the youthfulness and energy to make things happen that I used to have. We have worked together on so many projects: construction of church buildings, serving on mission trips, designing ball fields and playing softball on church teams. Our lives have been very interwoven."
Kenny adds, " My dad has a real gift for loving people. God has gifted me to be a visionary. It takes both for a church to move forward. I need him and he needs me."
The fruit of their labor can be easily seen in Bethel Christian Church's largest outreach ministry-softball. In many ways, the park is a "field of dreams." Ken and Kenny wanted to provide a fun, safe, loving atmosphere to share the game that they loved. Dedicated to two special members, Roy Fields and Gerald Farmer, they wanted to make the park a place for the community. The fields, playground and concession stand are the product of thousands of hours of hard work. Originally hilly, rock-laden and overgrown, the property has been cultivated into three lush fields, complete with bleachers, dugouts and scoreboards for great family fun.
Each weekend, anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people come to the church's ball park for softball games. A lot of people just make a day of it. The softball teams have two divisions. In the youth softball leagues, there are about 350 kids between the age of 5 and 17. Approximately 180 adults enjoy coed games between Bethel and area churches.
There is a strong sense of community as you walk through the park. Whether you are enjoying grilled hamburgers at the concession stand or watching the little ones on the playground, the atmosphere is positive and friendly. Players are encouraged to do their best as they work with their team. Booing and yelling have no place at this park. Instead, parents can be heard encouraging many of the players as they come up to bat. Everyone, from coach to spectator is invited to join in the attitude of fun, fairness and respect.
That's just fine with Ken Sr. and Kenny Jr. That's just the way that the Stokes men like it.
More information about the church and its ministry can be found at www.bcchome.org.