The Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph knew from an early age that God was going to be part of her life.
“In fact, I gave my life to Christ at 5 — a time when most kids don’t have a full concept of God,” she said. “But I had a better understanding than most kids my age of the importance of God being the Creator of all and that He loves me. …I had a strong conviction even then.”
As a young adult, she participated in various opportunities that would lead her to pursue the ministry.
But being a woman within the Baptist faith, she wasn’t sure if she would be accepted as a pastor in a Christian denomination with a history of mainly male-led congregations.
In 1995, Randolph said she stepped out in faith at Zion Baptist Church, where her stepfather the Rev. Larry Lewis is the longtime pastor, to make public her calling to become a pastor.
“My parents were very open and supportive,” Randolph said. “My dad said, ‘Who am I to say who God calls?’ …I understood in our denomination there weren’t women preachers; there weren’t women in ministry at my church. There weren’t women pastors in my denomination that I could look to.”
For a moment, Randolph said she even believed she would have to leave Zion Baptist but the congregation voted overwhelmingly to accept her as a minister within the church.
Randolph said that support from her parents and fellow church members gave her the confidence to go forward with a vocation in ministry.
“That was nothing but love they showed me,” she said.
However, Randolph’s public profession wasn’t embraced by all outside her church.
“First, I had letters to my house telling me I was going to die and go to hell for not following the Word of God, and not staying within the role of a woman,” Randolph said. “…We have some people who believe women can be ministers but balk at women being pastors.”
Within two years of her calling, she became a licensed minister and eventually moved away from Owensboro to follow her ministerial vocation.
She said one of her best experiences was being part of the ministry team of St. Stephen Church, the largest African-American Baptist Church in Louisville.
“I worked alongside several female pastors … so I was able to see that and work with other people who were like me,” Randolph said. “…It helped me to grow as a minister.”
In 2006, Randolph received her chance to pastor her own church. She was asked to apply at Pleasant Point Baptist Church, a small rural church in southern Daviess County.
Randolph was among eight candidates — and the only woman — vying for the job.
And when she was chosen, Randolph said she was excited because she never thought she would be able to lead a church within the Baptist faith.
“When the opportunity arose for me to minister, I just said yes to God,” Randolph said. “It was just the perfect timing for it to happen. I know that God made a way for it to happen.”
And for the past 14 years, she has faithfully led the small congregation as a bi-vocational pastor who also works full-time within the Daviess County Public Schools system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Randolph said the church’s numbers have decreased because of the many members who are older and among the vulnerable population.
But Randolph said she is determined to keep the church’s doors open and to shepherd those who join her on Sunday.
“I know that the work still has to be done in regard to pastoring, teaching people and operating the church,” Randolph said. “With this new age of COVID, you have to rethink things, too. …But I think it’s important that we keep our doors open. And I figure if we can do it safely, then why not.”
Don Wilkins, email@example.com, 270-691-7299