2016 is also Dr. Emmett Wiseman’s 60th year in ministry.
Dr. Emmett Wiseman was recently shown how much his congregation appreciates his work. The Bethel Missionary Baptist Church pastor celebrated his 17th anniversary with Plant City’s oldest uninterrupted church — and 60th in ministry — the weekend of Friday, May 13. The three-day celebration featured guest sermons from pastors in Hillsborough and Polk counties, concerts and a proclamation from Plant City Police Department.
“It was a delightful feeling,” Wiseman said. “After spending that many years in the ministry and being at Bethel 17 years … I felt very good.”
GROWING UP WITH GOD
Wiseman was born and raised in rural Arkansas, living 7 miles from a town of 600 people. His parents separated when he was 4 years old, and he was then raised by his aunt and uncle.
“My aunt was a very industrious woman, to say the least,” Wiseman said. “She made sure I went to church and Sunday school and that I stayed active. I was always active in our congregation.”
Wiseman, who always had an interest in reading, fell in love with the Bible and eventually became a Sunday school superintendent. At age 19, he was anointed into the ministry.
“I was always kind of the leader in the community, for the rest of the kids, and I would give them instruction,” Wiseman says. “That kind of carried over.”
DAVENPORT TO DAVENPORT
After pastoring in Arkansas for 12 years, Wiseman moved to Davenport, Iowa and spent 31 years in the area.
He then decided to retire and move to Florida, settling in Davenport in 1998. He drove to New Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Haines City, which did not have a pastor at first, and taught Bible study courses.
It wasn’t long before he was called back into full-time service.
Just before Thanksgiving of that year, Bethel found itself in need of a pastor. Wiseman was offered the job, and he began preaching in December.
“I preached the whole month of December,” Wiseman said. “The chairman of the pulpit committee asked if I would preach in January 1999, and the rest is history. I became pastor in February 1999.”
Wiseman’s interim tag was removed Feb. 21, 1999. Since then, he’s enjoyed preaching at the historic church.
“The challenge was that it’s a historic church, and anytime you’re dealing with history, especially a real, real deep-rooted history, you have to pastor a congregation of that nature with a special touch,” Wiseman said. “They’re somewhat different than a church that’s younger. You’ve got to be very careful how you deal with the people. You have to work with the older people, who are really pillars of the congregation.”
By the looks of it, Wiseman has made a positive impact with the congregation.
“It’s been challenging, but rewarding,” he said.
Contact Justin Kline at [email protected].