Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


February 7, 2012

‘We are like a big family’

JACKSONVILLE — This just might be a record. If it's not, it's close. The Rev. Benny Walker has been a pastor at Taylor's Chapel Community Church in Tecula for 64 years.

But pastoring a church and looking after his congregation is not all this man has been doing for the last 70 years. He has been walking with and talking to the Lord, and leading others to the Savior for most of his life. He has not kept count of the weddings, funerals, baptisms and other important moments in life in which he has assisted.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he went into the service and stayed until the war was over. It was during World War II, while he was in the Army Infantry stationed overseas, that he began having a little Sunday church service for the men.

Officers heard about it, came one Sunday and sent for Walker to come and talk to them. Without a guess, the officers told him they wanted him to continue doing the services, but to include the whole company. Walker said he considered it a blessing.

After conducting many services for the company, a Protestant and Catholic chaplain were brought in, and they would have communion on ship.

Once home from the war, he began studying at the seminary, now known as Southwest Assembly of God Seminary at Waxahachie. It was during this time that he began his ministry.  He received a bachelor's in social studies, a master's in education from Stephen F. Austin University and a public school administration degree.

Walker said he and his late wife, Louise, were both school teachers. He taught at New Hope School for several years, instructing seventh and eighth graders. He later taught for 34 years at LaPoynor. His teaching career lasted a total of 40 years.

Walker said he enjoyed working with youth groups, and during his time at New Hope, he also was a Boy Scout leader.

While simultaneously pastoring, in 1947 he and Mrs. Walker started their ministry at Taylor's Chapel in a little square building that had once been a residence. Many of the families who were there then, are still there, as are their descendants.

 "We are now with the fifth generation of some families,” Walker said. “We are like a big family.”

Not long after they started, they built a larger structure, making additions to the side and to the front. In 1987 the Benny and Louise Walker Family Life Center was constructed. The rich history of the church, began way back.

Walker said one year in January they told the children if they were at Sunday School every week until Easter, they would get a Bible. The turnout was great and they handed out lots of Bibles that Easter.

This is the only church Walker has pastored, but on occasion, he filled in for other pastors. He also conducted many retreats for children and youth with his wife.

"Coming here and building this church is like Moses leading the children from bondage," he said. "It's been wonderful."

Walker was born in Cross Roads, Tx. into a family of 11 children. His father was a farmer from Alabama growing mostly cotton, corn and peas. Of the four boys and seven girls in the family, there are three boys and three girls remaining. Walker attended school in Cross Roads before entering into the seminary.

Of his many experiences and memories, Walker said one of his most rewarding came at the end of the war. His company was assigned to releasing civilian Japanese prisoners from an old prison on the Philippine island of Luzon. He said they looked for the prisoners for three days, stopping often to pray, not knowing what they would find. They were finally found, all in one room, scared and starved.

While the prisoners were imprisoned on the island, they had taken scraps from clothing, any thing red, white or blue, and constructed an American flag. They would place it in a window upstairs for a time and then take it down because they were afraid that the Japanese would see it and kill them. Prisoners asked he rescuing unit to sign a Japanese combat shirt when they were liberated.

In 2007 there was a reunion of the prisoners and their families in San Augustine, Fl. The purpose of the reunion was to honor God for intervening in their lives and releasing them from bondage. Walker and many of the rescuing soldiers went to the event, and saw the combat shirt they all had signed.

Walker said he too had some close calls. When he was a youngster, he was swimming in a stock tank when he got a cramp and almost drowned. The late Vernon Harton pulled him out. Walker was able to pay back the debt to his hero later in life. When Larry Taylor nearly drowned in a stock tank as a youngster, Walker pulled him out.

Serving in the Army in Bouganville, Guadacanal and many islands of the Philippines, Walker said he feels God watched after him. He said his favorite message is, "Be faithful to death, and He'll give you a crown."

With the life he has lived, the work he has done and the faith he has, we expect him to have a wonderful crown waiting for him. He will be 90 years old today. He will be honored from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Family Life Center at the church, and his friends are invited. We hope to be among those helping him celebrate.

Text Only
  • churned ice cream.tif I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

    Good things come to those who wait, especially when homemade ice cream is involved.
    Just ask Carolyn Easter of Wells, who grew up in rural Houston County using a hand-cranked freezer to create the delectable dessert.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gearing up with Jacksonville's Back to School Fair

    A little more than a decade ago, Father Mark Kusmirek learned from a parishioner who worked at JISD that approximately 80 percent of local students were from economically disadvantaged families.

    July 12, 2014

  • WilliePRichardson.tif A friend indeed ... Comedian’s last show honors E.Texas friend

    It certainly makes sense that nationally known comedian Willie P. Richardson’s final gig is a tribute to his friend Pam White.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jacksonville Education Foundation to honor Guinn, Womack

    The Stars at night shine clear and bright, deep in the heart of Jacksonville!  
    Directors and volunteers of the Jacksonville Education Foundation are busy preparing for the third annual “Evening With Our Stars” event set for August 14, 2014.

    June 21, 2014

  • LIV 5-24 swink dancers 2554.tif Dancing their hearts out

    Teams from Swink Studio of Dance have racked up several awards this year as they performed in dance competitions from Tyler to Texarkana, said studio owner Jill Swink.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A different route to parenthood provides unexpected blessing

    Love – and motherhood – can come unexpectedly.
    Just ask Jacksonville resident Laura Mullenax, whose foray into the world of adoption with her husband, Tim, began with a challenging start and ended with an unexpected blessing.
    The couple, who are owners of T&L Automotive, are parents to 21-year-old TJ, Tim's son from a previous marriage. However, “we wanted a child between us,” Mullenax said.

    May 10, 2014

  • Mother’s Day a century-old tradition

    This year marks the 100-year anniversary of Mother's Day, when Congress passed a resolution to honor mothers after a multi-year campaign by Anna Jarvis, who wanted to memorialize her mother's lifelong activism, according to the National Women's History Project website.

    May 10, 2014

  • Local reviews ‘Tomato Republic’

    On April 9, I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the world premiere of The Tomato Republic, a documentary movie about the 2013 Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral election. The film was entered in the Dallas Film Festival within the Texas subjects division.

    April 15, 2014

  • “I am the resurrection and the life”

    For millions of believers throughout the world, Holy Week is considered the high point of the Christian year, because they recall the series of events in Jesus' life that began with a welcome embrace and ended with his death by crucifixion.

    April 12, 2014

  • 'Thespians ‘N Training’ group ready to sign up new talent

    TNT (“Thespians ‘N Training”) theatre arts camp will be offered for the 11th consecutive year by Cherokee Civic Theatre.  TNT 2014 will run July 14-26 at the historic Cherokee Theater.

    April 5, 2014