FRANKLIN, Ky. (KT) – Three years ago, J.T. Curtis had his first Sunday in the pulpit at Providence Baptist the day after his father died.
Steve Curtis, his father, was the longtime pastor of Providence, serving 35 years. “He buried, married and did everything else for these people,” his son said. “Dad and I had many conversations. It was never about keeping his legacy going. He wanted Providence to be used for the Lord.”
His father was told in January 2018 that he had terminal liver failure and died that December. Before he passed, though, Steve met with the deacons and church leadership to work out a transitional plan.
“It was good leadership,” he said. “He was saying if this doesn’t get better, what are we going to do?”
J.T. Curtis was pastoring a daughter church, but the plan was for him to be the transitional pastor at Providence. He agreed, with no intention of becoming the full-time pastor, although the Lord had other plans.
“The idea was to keep them going, push forward in the mission,” J.T. said. “I had no intention of staying. I fully intended to transition the church to someone else. My dad was literally buried under the pulpit. He was cremated and asked to put his ashes under the pulpit. It’s like I’m standing on his shoulders.”
J.T. Curtis said the members at Providence are family to him. “Since Dad died, we’ve buried 10 people,” he said. “I’ve been around these people. It means a lot for them to trust me with this after the transitional time. They see the pastor’s kid who ran around here causing trouble. That’s a big change (to becoming the pastor).”
He said an older man who was a retired missionary told the church they must look at J.T. differently. After having J.T. leave the room, the gentleman told the congregation that “this is no longer little J.T., this is Brother J.T. We need to treat him like the pastor.”
“I haven’t had any issues with anybody,” Curtis said.
The church has made its way through COVID and continues to grow, the pastor said. “We’ve turned the corner and are getting back in the life of things.”
Their Sunday night VBS has been a big success, he said, and Sunday attendance has been steady at around 100 every week. J.T.’s sister, Jenna, is the director of students. She served in that capacity under her father as well and is midway through her seminary degree at Southeastern.
J.T. Curtis said he does feel that “internal challenge” with Providence being his father’s church. “I don’t want to let him down. It’s a good reminder to me every day as I read my Bible that the church isn’t built on me. I know everybody. I know their names. I went into a church where I had more than enough emotional and social capital.”
And the church seems more than pleased to have J.T. as their pastor, continuing a Curtis family legacy of leadership.