New minister called to First Baptist Church
The First Baptist Church of Tonganoxie is undergoing some changes.
The church has a new pastor for the first time in 48 years, after the Rev. Edward Hobby stepped down in December.
"He was very faithful and always seemed to care about the congregation," said church member Elizabeth Burnett.
Now, First Baptist has a new leader. Weldon Jolly, who became the church's new pastor Jan. 6, comes from a Kansas City, Mo., church with a congregation of 2,500.
Jolly said he's ready for the challenge of adjusting to the much smaller Tonganoxie congregation.
"I'm looking forward to working here in this community and with the congregation," Jolly said. "I'm very excited."
Jolly served as an associate minister at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., for four years before coming to Tonganoxie. Before that, he was at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan., for nine years. Overall, Jolly has been a pastor for about 25 years and was a journalist before that, working at the Kansas City Star as a general assignment reporter for five years. Other occupations included an administrative position at the college level and a spot in real estate sales.
Now a full-time plumbing contractor, Jolly has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is now pursuing a master's degree in divinity from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. Jolly started his plumbing service 26 years ago, and said skills he learned in preparing that business will help him at his new church.
"I built it from scratch," Jolly said about his business. "Challenges are what I've had in the past. I'm used to challenges.
"I'm a self-starter. I don't need to be told what needs to be done. There's a reason why I'm self-employed."
Elizabeth Burnett, who attends the church, said the transition from Hobby to Jolly has gone well.
"Well, every one of the members seems to accept him," Burnett said. "He just seems to be working for long-range accomplishments in helping the congregation to grow because there are very few people there at this time."
The church's new pastor is hoping to increase the congregation and get the community more familiar with his church at Sixth and Green streets.
"It's smaller, so there's not a whole lot of resources," Jolly said. "My goal is to raise our profile in the community. I think that's necessary."
Although it's a smaller church, First Baptist has functioned for some time, and Jolly is impressed with that aspect.
"They've maintained that church when perhaps others would've closed the door," Jolly said. "They've hung in there and kept the doors open and I appreciate it. I appreciate their faithfulness, their sense of duty, their dedication.
"I'm convinced people here deserve as much as any other church to have a pastor."
Jolly, and his wife, Jacky, have two daughters and one son twins Max and Stacey, both 28, and Leah, 23. He and his wife live in Shawnee.