Leaf River Baptist Church is focused on Biblical leadership. The goal of leadership is truly to lead others into a growing and meaningful relationship with Christ. In order to best lead LRBC, we have a group of qualified men serving as “Elders” (Titus 1:10-16). The church is governed by Elders in order to best facilitate the growth of the body as a whole, as well as representing Scriptures as best we understand them.
The term “elder” is a term from ancient Jewish leadership practice and refers to those who are older and/or more mature in their faith. However, Jesus liked the term “shepherd” (sometimes translated “pastor”) for his own leadership, and non-Jews were more familiar with leadership from an “overseer” (sometimes translated “bishop”), so the writers of the New Testament combined all those concepts together in talking about church leaders. Therefore, all pastors also serve as elders.
Pastor Billy Hardy came to serve Leaf River Baptist Church in July of 2019. Pastor Billy is married to Bethany Hardy, and they have two kids, Collin (born in 2003) and Isabel (born in 2004). Pastor Billy grew up in a pastor’s family and came into a saving relationship with Christ at the age of 19 while living in Puerto Rico. Pastor Billy then served in Puerto Rico for four years as a missionary and a youth pastor. Billy and Beth were married July 6, 2002, after meeting in Puerto Rico. They immediately began serving together, always seeking how to serve best where God sends them.
The Hardy family later moved to Indiana (both in Northern Indiana and Central Indiana), and Pastor Billy began serving as a youth pastor and associate pastor for 17 years. Pastor Billy attended Luther Rice University where he received a bachelor’s in Biblical studies as well as counseling in 2015. He attended Faith Bible Seminary where he received a master of divinity, with a focus on Biblical Counseling and original languages, in 2019.
Bethany attended the Indiana University of South Bend where she received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (specifically in English). God has gifted her to be able to work in educational ministries, beginning at the age of 16 years old. From this point on, God has given her a vision for how educational ministries can actually change the lives of kids within a discipleship environment. She has now served in and consulted with churches all over the world in order to develop their children’s ministries. Currently, she leads a consulting ministry for children’s ministry called Children’s Ministry Matters where she helps churches understand the importance of children’s ministry in their context.
Both Pastor Billy and Bethany are skilled in counseling any area of life and bringing the truth of Scripture to interact with life. Prior to serving as a full-time pastor, Billy worked in construction and building and housing maintenance, specializing in HVAC as well as Electrical work. This lead him to manage the largest property management firm in Lafayette, Indiana for 5 years. While leading this firm, he was able to grow in his ability for financial counseling those that are struggling.
Steve Wells has been a member of Leaf River Baptist Church since 1991. He serves as a teacher in the adult Sunday school class, as well as a small group bible study leader. He also actively serves on the finance committee. Prayer is an important part of his ministry, and you will find him at many of the prayer meetings during the week interceding for those in the fellowship. Steve and his wife, Donna, were married in 1990 and have two adult sons. Steve retired from an equipment sales career in 2018 and now has more time for ministry at LRBC, the Gideon’s International, mowing the lawn, and tinkering on projects in his garage.
Dan Drozd received Christ as Savior at the age of 15 at a youth group event in Wisconsin where he was born. Dan was drafted into the Army in 1972 serving two years as a truck mechanic. He and his wife, Kathy, have been married for 45 years and live in Oregon. They have been blessed with three married children and six grandchildren. Dan has been a member of Leaf River Baptist Church for 31 years. Over the years, he has served in different capacities and has been an Elder for 17 years. Daily reading of God’s Word, coupled with prayer, is of the utmost importance to Dan. He currently leads a small group in his home. As a retiree, Dan works part time as a painter and enjoys traveling with Kathy.
Ray & Linda went to the First Baptist Church of Byron. Linda grew up in Bradford, TN until the age of 9. She then moved up to Byron where she became a member of First Baptist. She went to Byron High School and then on to school to become a CNA. I interrupted those plans. I grew up in the Wheaton, IL area and moved up to Byron in 1966. Almost immediately I was drafted into the army. I got it postponed until we could get our crops planted. I never met Linda at that time. When I got out of the Army in 1968 I came back to the farm and became a member of First Baptist. We married in 1971 and soon moved out to the farm northeast of Leaf River. It is really amazing how God put us together, one from Tennessee and one from Wheaton. I started out as the Sunday School Supervisor and then on to Deacon until we started the Church in Leaf River. I turned into an Elder when we started the Elder Board. Linda has been the Sunday School Secretary since shortly after we were married. She has also been a Deaconess on and off. We have a daughter, Renee Bicksler, with her husband, Rick, and their son Brody and daughter Breanna, our grandson and granddaughter. We also have a son, Bryan Dyck, with his wife Raina, and their son Nate, and their daughter Elizabeth, our grandson and granddaughter. We have been members here at Leaf River Baptist Church since it started.
Hello, my name is Daniel H Gibble. I was born on July 15, 1948. I accepted the Lord when I was 5 years old and have done my best to serve him ever since. I lived in both Akron, Ohio, and York, Pennsylvania while growing up. I graduated from high school in 1966. I moved to Mount Morris and met Kathy. We were married on June 21, 1969. We moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where I managed a drive-in restaurant call Gino’s for 11 years. We then moved back to Mount Morris to be closer to Kathy’s parents. We had also had three children by that time, Jeannette, James, and Jay. After moving back to Illinois, I worked at Logli’s for 26 years. I was downsized so I decided to make a dream of mine come true and was able to get my associate’s degree in accounting from Highland Community College. I now work at the Mobil gas station in Mount Morris part-time/full-time. We started to go to Leaf River Baptist Church 32 years ago. Our daughter was going to the youth group, and we wanted to make sure it was a good church so we went to the service to listen to the pastor who at the time was Randy Newton, and we’ve been going ever since. I have held the position of Deacon/Elder for 30 years. I would like to add that some of my life experiences involved boy scouts, high school musicals, camping (which became a family favorite), and sports cars. I was finally able to own a 1984 Corvette, which was also another dream. I enjoy very much reading, and my favorite book to read is the Bible. I like to study it. I like to go to our small group, which is run by Dan Drozd. In this picture, you will see myself my wife Kathy, our children Jeanette, James, and Jay, and two of our eight grandchildren, Faith and Kaleb. It’s been a joy to get to know our new pastor Billy Hardy and his family. I find it to be an exciting new adventure. Come join us!