Although Rev. Walter Macio Leach Sr. says Sundays are the most important day of all, as they provide an opportunity to give "thanks and praise," the pastor of St. Paul Baptist Temple says the remaining six days of the week, although spent outside the church, are also of great importance.
"After church it becomes our responsibility to walk circumspectly," he
said, "so that men will want to know this God of ours and this Jesus who is capable of taking them from the guttermost to the uttermost."
community involvement and commitment to his
, who recently celebrated his
26th anniversary as its pastor, practices just what he
Born in Lillybrook, Leach
moved to Beckley when he
was 10 years old.A graduate of Stratton High School, Leach was a full-time employee of American Electric Power and had served as deacon of St. Paul Baptist Temple for seven years, when he said he was called upon to preach.
"I heard the Lord's voice speak to me," said Leach
, who, with Lonella, his
wife of 41 years, has five children and eight grandchildren."It's a unique thing that happens to every called minister of God."
It was a voice Leach
could not ignore.
"I made a decision to follow this life of ministry to minister to the hearts and the minds of the people," he
For 18 years, until his
retirement from AEP in 2000, Leach
balanced raising a family, working full-time and ministering to members of his
"I don't know how I did it," he
said of the workload.
The church renovation is not the only plan Leach
has for growing the ministry.
Across the street from his
church, located at the corners of F and Rice streets in Beckley, Leach
envisions the construction of a building which will house a gymnasium in addition to classroom space.Leach
goal is to have the building up and running within 10 years.As he
gazes through his
office window at the open space, however, he
seems to already see it.
"My vision is to put a building across the street so that it will house ministries and be utilized in the community to get the young people off the street," he
said."We want to put a gym, study hall and places where they can have exercise equipment."Although the completion of the building will be an addition to the community in which Leach's church is located, the pastor is also committed to helping the community at large as he serves as chief volunteer officer for the Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA.
"I like the mission of the Y that is 'strong kids, strong families and strong communities,' " he
said."Serving on the board of the YMCA
, you're just trying to make sure that the mission is intact and that mission statement will be forever."Leach says he enjoys his work with the YMCA, which has afforded him the opportunity to travel and to see how the Beckley Y measures up to those in other areas.
The result, he
says, is promising.
"I believe out of all I've experienced, the YMCA
in Beckley is nothing short of its mission statement," he
is not looking forward to retirement, he
says, with the completion of the building, it will be time.
"Within the next 10 years, God is going to allow me to fill my destiny with that building," he
said."That will be 36 years in the ministry and I think it will be time to let some younger man come in."Leach
says allowing the next generation to step in will allow the church to remain effective in the delivery of its message, and the saving of souls, what he
says is the main objective.
"I always want to be effective," he
said, adding changes within the community call for changes within how the gospel is delivered."It's not that you don't think clearly and that you don't love the Lord.It's just the generation change."
When the time does come for Leach
to step down from the pulpit, he
will remain active in both the church and community.
"My name is Leach and I love to preach," he
said with a smile and a nod.