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He went from teacher to shepherd — Church in need of pastor finally gets a godsend

Although Zach Kilpatrick wanted to teach junior college biology, God had something different in store for him. Kilpatrick and his family recently moved to Lincoln County so he could serve as pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

“But the things we do for the Lord are meaningful and lasting,” Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended East Central Community College, Mississippi State University, the University of West Alabama and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology, a Master of Arts, and a Master of Theological Studies. He has been married to his wife Amanda for almost 10 years, and the two have four children together: Chip, 5; Addy, 3; Chase, 1; and a baby boy due next month.

While obtaining his master’s in biology, Kilpatrick taught science at a small private school near Starkville. He didn’t want to teach high school, but rather teach at the community college level. A pastor Kilpatrick knew in Monticello contacted him and asked if he would be interested in becoming the youth minister. After much prayer, he visited the church to see what kind of opportunity it would be. After meeting with the committee, he and his family made the decision to move and accept the position. He’s been doing the Lord’s work ever since.

“We felt that the Lord made it very clear, so we packed up and left Starkville and moved to Monticello and he’s been faithful to remind us of our calling ever since,” Kilpatrick said. “We’ve been in ministry and committed to continue pastoring for the rest of our lives.”

Kilpatrick has been working full time in the ministry for eight years now. He worked as an associate pastor for three and one-half years at Bethel Baptist Church, and he was the pastor at First Baptist Church of Polkville for four years. He has served as the pastor for Mt. Zion Baptist Church for six months.

Kilpatrick found out about the open position at Mt. Zion through Brooks Porter, who served as a pastor near Kilpatrick’s church.  Porter had attended Mt. Zion in his youth, and he requested a resume from Kilpatrick after hearing him speak at a brotherhood breakfast. Porter passed the resume onto the pastor search committee at Mt. Zion, and after looking over it they asked to listen to one of his sermons. They liked what they heard, and so Kilpatrick was unanimously voted to become pastor.

Although the family didn’t want to leave Polkville, they accepted the Lord’s calling and moved to Lincoln County. Adjusting to a new environment was going to be a challenge for the Kilpatricks, but the family was eager to become part of the community.

“It’s been very helpful having young kids here in church, where there are a lot of young couples, so we’ve been able to make friends very quickly,” Kilpatrick said. “We’ve really enjoyed just being part of a community that has a lot of families in our same stage of life.”

Not only was the family moving to a new church, but to a new community as well. The area is different from Polkville, but the Kilpatricks have enjoyed their time in Lincoln County so far.

“One thing that we like about Brookhaven is that it offers a lot of places where you can do things locally, but it doesn’t have that big town feel,” Kilpatrick said. “So it’s not a lot of traffic, not a lot of the issues and headaches that you get from living in Meridian or Jackson, but it still offers a lot of opportunities in a small town and that’s really unique, and we really appreciate that.”

Because Kilpatrick was wary of pastoring a new church, he called pastors he knew in the Lincoln County area and asked about Mt. Zion. The pastors he called gave the reputation of Mt. Zion being a strong church and having a loving and caring community. Since becoming part of Mt. Zion, Kilpatrick can attest to the reputation.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve noticed that it’s an earned reputation, the church and the community do seem very close knit,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s very neat to see a church and community that is multi-generational to the extent that it is, but still has unity as well.”

Things happen for a reason, and Kilpatrick is glad that he made the decision to become the pastor at Mt. Zion, even if he hadn’t wanted to in the first place.

“Even though we weren’t ready or excited to move, this is what he had planned for us,” Kilpatrick said. “We accepted that and moved, and in the past six months the Lord has made it very clear that this was the right decision and we’re very thankful to be here.”

Story by Gracie Byrne