WHEELWRIGHT — With the retirement of its directors, the Wheelwright Baptist Center is changing hands, but one of the new directors should be a familiar face to residents of the area.
Charles and Margie Wilson, who operated the center for 26 years, as part of 32 years of mission work for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, stepped down from their director roles Aug. 31. The couple left the area to return to their native Georgia.
With the Wilsons’ retirement, KBC decided to sell the center to someone else. The organization formed a committee to consider proposals from interested parties, and ultimately chose to hand the center over to someone who says the Wilsons changed his life.
Wheelwright native David Boyd, who is known as “Dabo” to his friends, will return to Wheelwright to operate the center, with his wife, Stephanie.
“From the start, we wanted to see the ministry at Wheelwright sustained,” said Paul Chitwood, KBC executive director. “The fact that the Wilsons themselves know the Boyds and have confidence in their ability to continue the work there gives me confidence that we made the right decision.”
Boyd said he first encountered the center while serving on the Wheelwright city commission 17 years ago. At the time, Boyd was not a Christian and did not view churches favorably, Charles Wilson said.
Back then, the city and the center were working together to find accommodations for 150 volunteers from World Servants, who were coming to the area to build and repair homes for needy families.
Working alongside the volunteers changed Boyd, Charles Wilson said.
“A few months after that, he gave his life to Christ,” Wilson said.
Boyd called Wilson his “spiritual mentor” and began working with him to start a Youth Fellowship Center in 1998.
Stephanie Boyd is an area director for World Servants Appalachian Initiative who first went to Wheelwright during a mission trip as a teenager.
“I fell in love with the community and the people,” Stephanie Boyd said. “I started crying when we were driving away.”
As part of the change in ownership, the Appalachian headquarters of World Servants will be located in the Wheelwright Baptist Center.
The Wilsons are expected to relocate to Wheelwright with their two sons, Stephen and Carter, later this month.
Eric Allen, a missions growth team leader with KBC, said during a recent farewell reception for the Wilsons that the couple would be missed.
“One of these days, when you get to heaven, there will be a lot of people thanking you for what you’ve done,” Allen told the couple. “You have given your lives to the people of Floyd County. You have listened to them and cried with them. You will be missed.”
One of the people the Wilsons helped was Jeff Craft, a California native who moved to Wheelwright nine years ago. Craft admits that when he first arrived in Wheelwright, he was willing to get in a fight “at the drop of a hat.” Now, he says, he is living a Christian life, thanks to the Wilsons’ guidance.
“With their help, I became a more patient person,” Craft said. “I have learned to be content, whether rich or poor, hungry or full.”