Kent's Story

My story begins January 28, 1957, when I was born to two wonderful parents, Allen and Nell Spann, in Memphis, Tennessee. They were both actively involved at the Whitehaven Baptist Church in Whitehaven, Tennessee, where my father was a deacon in the church and my mom served as the secretary to the pastor. Another significant influence on my early development was my grandmother who was a wonderful, godly Christian.

 Being raised in a Christian home meant church was a large part of my early life. It was a natural progression for me to join the church. When I was nine years of age, I decided to join the Whitehaven Baptist Church where my family attended. I wanted to be baptized in the new church on opening day along with my friends. The pastor visited me in my home to discuss baptism and church membership. The only thing I remember from his visit is quoting John 3:16. I do not remember praying a sinner’s prayer or asking Christ to come into my life at that point.

After my baptism, I continued to be active at the church – going on mission trips, attending evangelism rallies, etc. I did all the things that a Christian is supposed to do – reading my Bible, attending church, praying and even sometimes witnessing. I tried to do the right things. In spite of all this, there was a nagging sense something was not right in my life.

It all came to a head in March 1974 during my senior year in high school. While attending a youth legislative conference in Nashville, Tennessee, an old friend, Ben Whitten, came to visit me along with his friend, Carleton Gas. Ben and Carleton began witnessing to my roommates who were agnostics. I joined in the debate, lending my support to Christianity. During the course of the conversation, I realized that Ben and Carleton had something I did not have – a personal relationship with Christ. I had a religion but not a relationship. It was either there in Nashville, Tennessee, or right after I got home that I prayed the sinner’s prayer and when my life really began to change. Now it wasn’t a ritual, it was a relationship; now in which there was a real heart hunger to know God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

I really began growing in my relationship with Christ when I started attending Calvary Baptist Church while a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. Under the preaching of Bob Burch, I learned to love and study God’s Word in-depth. Another great influence on life was Lee Bennett who challenged me to a deeper walk with Christ.

It was while a student at the University of Tennessee that God called me to the ministry. My original plan was to finish business school and head to law school. In my sophomore year, I felt a real desire to go into the ministry. My pastor, Bob Burch, recommended I wait and see if God strengthened or took away the desire before I made the decision public. Over the course of the next year, the desire only increased. It all came to a head in my junior year while on a personal prayer retreat. While reading Psalms 37:4, Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart, God confirmed He had put the desire in my heart. He then gave me a promise from Jeremiah 1:10, See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. I went back and announced God’s call to the ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville.

I immediately began the pursuit of God’s calling by finishing my degree at the University of Tennessee in 1978 and then heading to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I have continued to pursue God’s call on my life even to this day.

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After graduating from Southwestern Seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree, I took my first pastorate at Saulsbury Baptist Church in Saulsbury Tennessee. It was there God brought a wonderful and, might I add, beautiful girl by the name of Cynthia Graves into my life. She was the pianist at First Baptist Grand Junction, Tennessee. I had seen her before but thought she was married. I preached a revival at her church in 1983 where she came forward during the invitation. For some strange reason, when she came forward I asked her who she was married to. She said she wasn’t married; I said, let’s pray. I knew at that moment she was the one God had for me. We were married August 4, 1984. She has been a faithful companion, the mother of my three children and, most importantly, my best friend.

A lot has happened, good and bad, during the course of the years, but one thing has remained true – God is faithful (Lam. 3:23-24). I still love God. I have never lost the hunger to know Him. I never want to stop growing in my relationship. One of my life verses is 2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

My passion statement sums it up: I exist to passionately enjoy God and bring joy to Him through loving obedience and wholehearted worship.

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