Future for local church and community after loss of beloved pastor
On the evening of Sept. 27, 2019, the Rev. Wayne H. Padgett, a locally known and beloved pastor, passed away in West Palm Beach from several medical issues. He left behind his wife, children and church family.
“Whatever I picture a pastor’s heart to be, that’s what he was,” Crossroads Baptist Church Associate Pastor Bill Derryberry said.
Padgett acquired a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary after graduating with the first class of Palm Beach Atlantic University in 1972. He was pastor of Plum Creek Baptist Church in Waterford, Kentucky. and Haverhill Baptist Church before becoming a pastor to Crossroads Baptist Church for 23 years.
During the rest of his time in West Palm Beach, Padgett ministered to the community of Gramercy Park and served as the chaplain for Fern House, a men’s rehabilitation center.
For nearly 18 years, Padgett also served as chaplain at Trustbridge, formerly known as Hospice of Palm Beach County. There, he took pride in providing emotional and spiritual support for families facing the loss of a loved one.
His wife, Gerry Padgett, who’s been the pianist for Crossroads for over two decades, is still dedicated to filling the church with music every Sunday despite her husband no longer being by her side.
“This is what Wayne and I have always done…besides that, I just really like playing [the piano],” Gerry said. “This is a very big corner of this area, the county, and I would hate to see the presence of this church leave this corner.”
The church is on the corner of 45th Street and Haverhill Road. To its left is Gramercy Park, a community that’s been weighed down by violence in the past. Gerry believes the church has made an impact on the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
“I have a thing about land… that this is God’s land. Somebody years and years ago gave this land to… form a church because they needed one in this community,” Gerry said.
Throughout the years, the church provided access to a food pantry and held several fundraising events for locals. Officials like Chief Michael Gauger and Palm Beach County Office of Civil Rights Director Houston Tate shared their gratitude toward Padgett for the outreach he provided within the community.
Moving forward without neglecting Padgett's contributions, Gerry and other church members believe it’s best to introduce a young pastor in the near future.
“It’s important that we get somebody with vitality [who] has the mission of this church and the community,” Gerry said.
Even though he wants to introduce a young pastor to the church as well, Derryberry believes ministry goes beyond who is preaching.
“This is God’s church. It wasn’t Wayne’s church. It’s not our church. It’s God’s church and he put us here,” Derryberry said. “I think as long as there’s a community here to minister to, and a need, then it’s appropriate that we keep it going.”
By Rachida Harper