CRESTVIEW — New Beginnings Church Pastor Raymond Williams' impending retirement is bittersweet for Jeanette Prater.
Williams introduced the church secretary to her husband and served at theirs and their daughters' weddings.
He officiated 237 weddings and 721 funerals during 39 years of ministry between New Beginnings and Southside Baptist Church, now known as Central Baptist Church, Prater said.
And New Beginnings grew in attendance from 26 members in 1993 to nearly 300 members each Sunday, she said.
"He deserves the opportunity to retire, but on the other hand, he has been such a vital part of our lives here," Prater said.