Note: Rev. Kilgore was contacted for comments on his retirement, but was working on funeral services for a family member as well as a move. He was therefore unable to comment on this article.

CRESTVIEW — First Baptist Church of Crestview will hold a reception for the Rev. Alan Kilgore, who retired Dec. 23.

The ceremony is 1-3 p.m. Jan. 26 at the church's chapel, part of its complex at 171 Hickory Ave. W.

When Kilgore became FBC's pastor in 2006, the chapel was too small to accommodate its growing congregation of over 500 people.

"People were actually leaving because they couldn't find a seat in the sanctuary," Gayle Faircloth, Sunday School teacher and choir member, said.

At that point, Kilgore began taking the steps necessary to expand the church grounds and better serve their needs.

Faircloth, the church's Sunday School teacher, and her husband Albert served on the search committee when they were looking for a new pastor.

"We wanted a pastor who was mission minded, concerned about the people of our community — someone who could relate and encourage them in their walk with Christ," she said.

One of First Baptist's associate pastors, Randall Jenkins, said Kilgore has shown him and the church's other three associate pastors how to minister without favoritism, recognition of status or economic standing.

"He's been the pastor, preaching the full counsel of God's word and staying true to the scripture," Jenkins said. He provided an example of being a servant to others in their walk with Christ. He said they have been able to see FBC grow in spiritual depth as a result. First Baptist has become less about the church building and more about the service the church body provides throughout the community.

Ida Faye Powell, a congregation member, said Kilgore has had an excellent impact on the church. building the sanctuary, bringing in new people to our church, and he has a heart for everybody to know the Lord," she said.

She said one thing she will remember him for the most is his support before her husband, Howard, died in 2007.  Howard, who had pancreatic cancer.

Before he passed away, Alan came to our house and asked to talk to Howard.

'I want to be sure that I know where Howard is going when he dies," she said. "He went to talk to him (came back up front and) said, 'OK, I know where he's going.' That impressed upon me that he wanted to be sure about Howard's salvation before he passed away," she said.

Jenkins said a committee will be formed to locate a pastor for Kilgore's position.