Jay Abernathy

Name: Jay Abernathy

Wife: Kelle (McHan) Abernathy of Abilene, TX

Children: Hannah (married to Trevor Brown, youth pastor at FBC Round Rock), Hayley (a Master's of Social Work student at Baylor), Caleb (a Freshman at Baylor)

Church: First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

Number of years: 14

Attendance: 250

Where did you grow up?

I started in Richardson, TX (FBC Richardson), but some may debate if it's a completed process yet.

How old were you when you became a Christian and what is the strongest memory about that time?

When I was 7 years old, my grandfather and I went on a walk. While crossing the street, I was struck and nearly killed by a speeding car. After a lengthy recovery, I had conversations with my parents and my pastor (Dr. James Landes). I knew (as much as a mischievous second grader could) that I was a sinner (ask my teachers and my principal), and when I learned my sin could be forgiven through Jesus, I received Him wholeheartedly. That April, at the age of 8, I was baptized at FBC Richardson.

Where did you do your undergrad?

Baylor University, BBA

If you did any post-graduate work, where did you attend and what degree did you earn?

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, MDiv BL

What is something unique about your church?

One of the older congregations in Texas, FBC Palestine has continuously gathered since March 1851, and has been closely engaged in Texas Baptist life all along, once hosting the annual convention in 1854. The rest of our story isn't necessarily unique, and what might be, it's possible we'd like to keep it a secret.

What is a mission or ministry that you are most proud of your church for doing?

  • For the past six years our church has been part of the launch of Refuge of Light, a non-profit 501I(3) ministry to domestic minor victims of sex-trafficking. The ministry now is partnered with many other churches and individuals across the state. Refuge of Light has constructed a licensed, recovery group home for domestic minor sex-trafficking victims that will begin operating this fall. More information is available at www.refugeoflight.org
  • For 13 years our church has grown a small food pantry into the largest benevolence ministry in the county. The First Resource Center is a non-profit ministry distributing food and other benevolence help to thousands each year. It is a recipient of Texas Baptist Hunger Funds, and receives grants from Salvation Army, Wal-Mart, and other business.
  • In 2005 our church began a long-term relationship with a church in Ramallah, West Bank. Since then members of our church and other churches in Palestine, Texas have made trips to and helped support the ministry of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Wow, just one? If it has to be one, it's Philippians 2:3-4, (What if all believers really lived this way?)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Other verses that have shaped me:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Isaiah 64:4 (NIV)

“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."

Isaiah 45:22 (NIV)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:11-12 (NIV)

What's your favorite non-Bible book?

Anything by C.S. Lewis, but over the long-term, I'm pretty partial to “The Last Battle", the concluding book of “The Chronicles of Narnia" series.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Lewis, C. S. (2008-10-29). The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia (Kindle Locations 2123-2125). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

I'd rather not say, so no one asks me to do it.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy golf and hunting, but nowhere near often enough.

What's your favorite sound?

My wife speaking to me.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Play the saxophone or fly an airplane.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

“Thank You for Buying This Book"

Ok, if I have to be serious it would be titled “I'm not Good Enough, but Jesus Is"

What was the first thing you bought with your own money?

I believe it was a Dr. Pepper that I bought with money I earned returning bottles for the deposit refund. I was maybe five or six years old. (Yep, I'm a Texan.)

What story does your family always tell about you?

When I was little, I would help my mother go to the Farmer's Market. One time, when she bought some watermelons, I wanted to help her take them to the car. I said, “I can carry two!" She let me try. I recall I made it a few steps and one watermelon slipped, as I tried to get a better grip on the first watermelon, the second one began to fall. As you've guessed, I was soon standing in the wreckage of two watermelons. To this day, I still like to take on big jobs or heavy loads. When I do, from my mother to my children I hear the quote repeated, “I can carry two," and I'm reminded to be careful (maybe.)

Crunchy or Smooth?

Smooth. I don't like wondering what the crunchy things might be.

Where's Waldo?

Probably, somewhere surrounded by red and white stripes. I gave up looking for him long ago.

Read more articles in: profiles pastor profile