UNION — At 82 years old the Rev. Carroll Caldwell is still following his calling to be a minister even though he retired 12 years ago.
Caldwell was recently honored by the Southern Baptist Convention with a 55 Years Service Award. The award and a study Bible were presented to Caldwell by Rev. David Blanton in December during a ceremony at Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church where he serves as pastor.
In addition to the honors paid him by the Southern Baptist Convention, Caldwell is also the recipient of the Order of the Silver Crescent which was awarded him by the governor of South Carolina in 2009. The state’s highest award for volunteer and community service, it honors individuals for exemplary performance, contribution and achievement within the community.
The awards are the most recent of many Caldwell has received over the years including:
• The Shriners Hospital Hejaz Gold Leaf Award in 2010.
• The Community Service Award by the Mayor of Woodruff in 2012.
• The House of Representatives Community Service Award in 2011.
• The 15 Year Service Award from the Woodruff Police Department in 2013.
• The Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2013.
• The Hejaz Shriner of the Year Award in 2013.
• The Masonic Meritorious Award in 2014.
That’s only a partial list of the awards Caldwell has received over the years for his service to the community, both as a minister at three area churches and with the other organizations he has been involved in. The awards and the activities they honor reflect Caldwell’s lifelong commitment to serving others.
“I’m a people person, a community person,” Caldwell said. “My entire life has been about serving others. My goal in life has been to help them be better. My whole philosophy is to work with people and improve things.”
Caldwell has been a minister for 55 years, a ministry that began in 1960 with a year of intern work and then continued from 1961-1978 as pastor of Harmony Baptist Church in Fountain Inn; then from 1978-2004 as pastor of Cavins Baptist Church in Woodruff which he helped organize; and since 2005, as pastor of Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church.
That ministry has also included serving as chaplain for the Woodruff Police Department, Cavins Masonic Lodge, and the Hejaz Shrine as well as 26 years as “Community Pastor” and “Unofficial Chaplain for B.J. Workman Hospital.”
For most of that time, Caldwell was also employed in the textile industry, going to work in 1951 and retiring 48 years later in 1999.
Caldwell pointed out that there is a crucial difference between his ministry and the jobs he held in the textile industry.
“My ministry is a calling, my other work is a vocation,” Caldwell said. “Becoming a minister is absolutely a calling and not a vocation. If you go into it as a vocation it will not work. It is one of the toughest jobs you would ever accept. It is a struggle every day.”
Caldwell described himself as a “bivocational minister,” that is a minister who also holds down another job in addition to serving as a pastor of a church. He said this has helped him in his ministry.
“Being a minister, especially a bivocational minister, helps me to see the problems people are going through every day,” Caldwell said.
His understanding of what the people he serves are going through is no doubt a big factor in his success as a minister.
When he left Harmony Baptist Church in 1978, it was to become part of Cavins Baptist Church which he helped organize. At the time it was organized, the church had 60 members. When Caldwell retired in 2004 after 26 years of service, the church had 585 members.
Even as he was serving as pastor of Cavins Baptist Church, Caldwell also assisted in organizing Calvary Hill Baptist Church in 1988 in helping the church pay off its loan in 1996.
So how has Caldwell managed to do all of this? He says it’s by answering his call as a minister to always be there when people need him regardless of the time or day.
“This is 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Caldwell said. “I go to very nursing home and hospital and I have only missed five Sundays out of the pulpit in 55 years.”
Even with all the demands his calling has placed upon him, Caldwell said he has been blessed to be minister and to serve others.
“I’ve had a wonderful ministry,” Caldwell said. “I’ve been out there with the people.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.