By Sharon Mager
LAVALE, Md.—In conjunction with the Western Baptist Association (WBA) going “mobile,” secretary Rhea Pritts will retire effective March 31 after serving the association for 40 years.
Pritts began volunteering in the WBA office in 1974 and was hired as secretary in 1975. She’s worked with three associational missionaries: Norman Wallace, Oscar Ohler and Kenny Heath.
Through the years, Pritts has gone from using a typewriter, with carbon paper and “onion skin,” to using a computer and a printer. It was a significant challenge, she said.
“Before the computer age, WBA church members came to our office for information and for the supplies they needed— filmstrips, eight-millimeter movies, and eight-track tapes were some of the items they checked out. Now most can obtain information needed by Internet,” she said.
Pritts made a confession of faith in Jesus when she was seven years old at LaVale Baptist Church.
“Since then I continue on my spiritual journey of growth and trusting Christ with my life, no matter what comes my way—the passing of my mother, my own major back fusion surgery, the unexpected passing of my 58-year-old sister (all within one and a half years) and major surgery to remove a large ovarian supposedly ‘cancerous’ cyst (many prayed, and it was benign). I felt the comfort and plan of God through all these trials. They all helped me in growing closer to the Lord and growing my faith,” she said.
Pritts and her husband, Bob, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in May. “Bob also grew up at LaVale Baptist, having been on the cradle roll,” said Pritts. “We were even in youth group together with no attraction for each other.”
But that changed in their senior year. Bob asked Rhea for a date and then Rhea asked Bob to escort her to the senior prom. “The Lord again had it all planned out for me and for him! We are still active members at LBC.”
Rhea said she enjoyed meeting church pastors and members, various missionaries and friends who stopped by to visit over the years. “I consider knowing and working with former SBC Foreign Missionary Violet Popp, who served as a nurse in Jordan, as one of the highlights in my ministry. I had heard of her since being in the GA’s (Girls in Action). I delighted in helping in all that we did and I considered it a ministry. Each day I thanked Him for my ‘job’ at Western Baptist Association.”
Western Baptist Association Director of Missions Kenny Heath is also thankful for Rhea’s work with the WBA. “Rhea is so much more than a secretary, more than an administrative assistant. She is a co-missionary with Deborah (Heath’s wife) and me, never commissioned as such by any agency, but with a calling from the Lord equal to ours. With all the changes and challenges that these years have brought, her gifts and abilities broadened, deepened, and increased. She eagerly dove into our missions work, because she loves it, loves the Lord, and loves the people He has given us to minister to and with,” Heath said.
Looking ahead, Rhea said, “I look forward to God’s leading and His plan of how He wishes me to serve Him in the coming years. I give Glory to God for what He has done in and through my life so far!”
“In 1974 I was given a scripture, which I do not think was just by chance – Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong (still looking forward to healing from back pain!); and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.’ I continue to be watered and growing spiritually.”