Dr. John Hallum, who led four churches in a career spanning 53 years, will put his leadership role to rest at midnight Dec. 31, retiring from East Side Baptist Church in Killeen after serving as pastor for the past 28 years.
“God said it’s time,” Hallum said of choosing 2013 as the year of his retirement.
His career began when he committed his life to the Lord at age 21, leading to a position at a small mission church in Corpus Christi. Over the decades, he moved to a second church in the same town, followed by another in Stockdale.
With each transition, Hallum, alongside Jeanette, his wife of 54 years, moved on according to God’s timing and his “desire to move the church forward,” he said. “I’ve been trying to be what God desired, (and) I determined I completed what needed to be done where I was.” East Side Baptist has changed significantly over the three decades Hallum served as its leader. The biggest move was to its current location from Rancier Avenue in the late 1980s.
The pastor was instrumental in starting a church food bank and clothes closet, along with various Bible study groups.
“He’s a wonderful pastor,” Jeanette Hallum said, as opposed to just a preacher. “He has a love and care for people, and he wants to be there for them. He has a pastor’s heart.”
As for the future, “I’m trying to find out what God wants me to do next,” he said.
The transition will affect more than just John Hallum’s day-to-day life, though it will be strange to operate without a regular schedule, his wife said.
“I’ll miss being called a pastor’s wife,” she said. “I’ve been (one) all my life.”
They married after meeting at her home church in San Antonio.
Jeanette Hallum was 17 years old; John Hallum was 22 and in the Air Force at the time.
“My wife has served alongside me all my ministry,” he said. “She keeps me out of trouble.”
Her work included playing the organ in church and working with women’s and children’s groups.
“It’s happy and it’s sad,” she said, of the end of his career.
The couple won’t rest for long, having their hands full with their three children, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one more on the way.
Hallum will give his final sermon at Sunday’s service, offering the fourth and final in a series of Christmas messages, regarding fellowship. “He’ll have to try to do it without crying,” Jeanette Hallum said.
Closing out his final month as a pastor, the church will host a reception from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 28, followed by a special service for him Dec. 29.
The pastor has yet to pack up his office, filled with books. He has only emptied one shelf so far. With the busy Christmas season upon him, he hasn’t had time.
The Hallums plan to continue as members of East Side Baptist’s 75-member congregation. “He’s a very special man,” said Marlene Felts, administrative assistant. “It will be a change but one we will be able to handle.”
The church has activated a pastor search committee to seek Hallum’s replacement.
“Some say it takes one month for every year the previous pastor (served),” she said.
In the meantime, an interim pastor and lay people will fill in.
Though he calls his retirement “one of the most dramatic experiences” of his life, Hallum has a simple message for his congregation: “Carry on.”