Whitman has served his congregation for 62 years
South Carolina apparently has at least two Baptist pastors who have served their congregations for 60 years or more.
After reading the article in December about the Eureka pastor who was celebrating 60 years in the same pulpit, Terreca Merck told The Courier about her dad, Boyce Whitman, who has been pastor of Gap Hill Baptist Church in Six Mile for more than 62 years.
Whitman began as a bivocational pastor at Gap Hill in July 1961, while he also worked as an electrical engineer with Sangamo Electrical Company in Pickens. Since then, Gap Hill has been his “one and only” pastorate, he said.
A graduate of Furman, Clemson and Columbia Pacific universities, earning a master’s in electrical engineering, Whitman’s work during those early years often took him to numerous other countries during the week, but he seldom wasn’t back in the pulpit on Sundays, he said.
He earned the nickname “preacher” while in grammar school, Whitman recalled. He first met his future wife, Doris, at age 12. After both finished high school early, the two were soon married.
When he began to sense he was being called into ministry, he asked his wife, “What are you going to do, if you are married to a preacher?” She apparently didn’t object, and today they have three adult children, 14 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
After Whitman retired as an engineer in 1983, the congregation called him as its full-time pastor. During his lengthy ministry, he’s led the church through four building programs.
Among his special memories through the years is working with Evangelist Jesse Powers, a Johns Island pastor, in Romania, and being able to take about 15 groups to the Holy Land, he said.
And, in spite of being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015 and given only three to six months to live, Whitman still preaches every Sunday morning and evening and on Wednesday nights. At 83, he’s still
winning the lost to Christ, comforting the brokenhearted, visiting the sick and singing in the choir.
“God has blessed us,” Whitman said, adding that “they can’t seem to find out why I’m still living — except that God is good.”
Through the years, he has organized and participated in mission trips to Romania, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In addition to helping construct several churches, Whitman started a seminary in the Dominican Republic.
Whitman received doctorates in Ministry, Bible and Theology from the Southern Baptist Center for Biblical Studies, based in Jacksonville, Fla., and he has served on its board of trustees and taught several classes. Among his blessings, Whitman said, has been “teaching pastors who were called to ministry later in their lives.”
As for his advice to young pastors: “Know you are called. God has called us, and He will not forsake us,” he said, “and pray, pray, pray.”