Preacher still going after ministering 50 years

Published 1:41 pm Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rev. Roland Foster preached his first sermon when he was barely 16 years old, and he was scared to death.

Having recently received his ministerial license, the teenager was thankful that his pastor had not asked him to preach on Sunday morning, but in the evening service, which only a few people attended.

Recalling that long-ago service, Foster laughed. “The church was full. The windows were open because the church wasn’t air-conditioned, and there were even people standing outside looking in.”

He said after the Lord got him through that sermon, he knew he was going to have a good life in the ministry.

“It has been a great life with the Lord. He’s really blessed us,” he said. His wife Delores agreed.

On August 16 Rev. Foster celebrated 50 years in the ministry.

He was 18 when ordained by New Bethesda Baptist Church in Chelsea and called as pastor. He served in this capacity for over twenty years, leaving for periods of time to serve other churches.

According to Delores, who has researched the history of the church, Foster’s great-grandfather, Rev. I.J. Davis is thought to be the first pastor at New Bethesda. Davis and Joseph Foster, also Roland Foster’s great-grandfather, were church founders.

In 1905, these two men and Isaac Perryman, church trustees, purchased from Saginaw Lumber Company land to be used exclusively for church, school and burial purposes. They paid one dollar for three acres adjoining Davis’ property.

The church building, located near the junction of roads 47 and 69, was one large room. After Foster became pastor in 1961, four classrooms and two bathrooms were added. Later, other additions were made and portions of the building, including the sanctuary, were remodeled. Today, it’s a modern, brick building.

Foster retired as pastor ten years ago. He and his wife now attend South Shelby Baptist Church where they teach a junior high Sunday School class. She also teaches a ladies’ Bible study class and is getting ready to begin rehearsals for a Christmas play. He stays busy, filling the pulpit for other pastors and holding revivals.

On Sunday, August 16 the church surprised him with a plaque, commemorating his 50 years in ministry.

He is really enjoying this time in his life, he said. “I feel more peaceful. More like I’m in God’s will.”

Columnist Shelba Nivens can be reached by e–mail at