Leicester/West Asheville – Leicester resident and Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church Dr. Ralph Sexton Jr. announced Sunday morning he would be stepping down. The senior pastor of the church will become pastor emeritus in October of 2021. He has led what is one of Asheville’s largest churches for more than 30 years.
Sexton made the announcement during the morning service on the church’s homecoming Sunday. The congregation and church staff also honored Dr. Sexton for 45 Years of ministry during that meeting.
Sexton rose to senior pastor of the church, founded by his father, Rev Ralph Sexton Sr., in 1988. After being the church’s youth pastor from 1975 to 1980, he changed positions and became the church’s staff evangelist.He traveled all over the nation with a large tent which would seat several thousand, holding old fashion tent revivals. According to Sexton the road crew consisted of about 30 personnel with some of the crusades going on for months. After his dad had a heart attack in 1988, the church called him to be their senior pastor.
During his tenure as senior pastor, he oversaw the expansion of the church into their new facility and was a key member of the group of ministers, who organized the Family Values Rally in Asheville back in the 1990s. The rally was attended by about 20,000 participants marching through the streets of downtown with associated traffic shutting down the freeways around the town. Sexton also started the non-profit disaster relief group, Hearts with Hands, and still plays a major role in supporting their relief efforts.
Sexton has maintained his tent ministry while senior pastor and plans to hold one starting on Memorial Day of next year in Johnson City, TN.
He arrived at the decision to step down after hearing from two pastors, whose lives had been dramatically altered overnight, telling the congregation, “It would be very selfish of me for this church not to have a plan.” After a few more comments he played a video about his future plans to move to pastor emeritus status. In addition, it covered the team he had assembled to put forth for a vote by the congregation whereby promoting his grandson, Rev. Winston Parrish, to lead pastor of the church.
Toward the end of the service, Sexton brought the team to the platform and asked the church body to vote on the team, which passed unanimously.
“Our church is too large and there are too many families not to have a plan,” Sexton told the Tribune. “So the more I thought about how that plan looked…I needed really something in writing something that had been talked about, something that had been planned and purposed and that’s when I went to work on it.”
Sexton, 74 in January, plans to also write a few books. He has three in mind right now. A devotional book with a working title of “Thirty days with Jesus in the Holy Land,” another about what he has learned from shepherds in the Middle East, and finally one on numbers in the Bible and their significants.
During the portion of service where Sexton was honored for his 45 years of ministry, he received accolades via video from numerous preachers, singers, and evangelists in the Christian community as well as a letter of recognition by two of the Buncombe County Commissioners, a health director in Israel and the President of the United States Donald Trump.
Sexton has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor one can receive as a North Carolina citizen. The honor was bestowed on Sexton by Governor Jim Hunt and is an honorary Attorney General for the state. “The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department also honored Sexton with a thirty-year service pin for serving as a certified special deputy. He currently serves the county as a Buncombe County Sheriff’s Chaplain, says his bio on the church’s website.
Full disclosure: The author of this article attends Trinity Baptist Church.