“Pastor Kimmel has faithfully modeled godly leadership as a husband and father, cherishing his wife and best friend, Dale, as well as loving and guiding his son, Josh, and daughter, Corinne,” a press release said. “He works tirelessly and seeks God’s guidance in all that he does.”
Kimmel forged his career from a bachelor’s in English that he applied to ministry. Teaching the word of God was a calling that came about halfway through his undergraduate studies, Kimmel said. He originally planned to become a lawyer.
He smiled as he looked down, remembering the words of his wife, whom he met as an undergraduate student.
“My wife maintains I pulled a bait-and-switch on her saying I was going to law school,” Kimmel said. “I was influenced a lot by the people I studied in the scope of English literature. Most influential writers and thinkers that I was being exposed to had great faith, and that made a big impression on me.”
The accomplishments that mean the most are difficult to quantify,” Kimmel said. “Helping people recognize the value of living out their faith in their everyday life and the difference it can make in your marriage and family life.”
A native of New Orleans, Kimmel moved to Kentucky for a master’s degree in divinity and started with his first church. Kimmel recalls the 50-member congregation at Blue River Island Baptist Church, in a rural community about 65 miles outside of Louisville, as a place where he was tolerated for his inexperience.
“I was really out of my element,” Kimmel said. “It was a rural congregation and I was very much a city boy, and they just tolerated me.”
His doctoral project, “Providing Pastoral Care through Preaching,” was inspired by a letter from a member of the congregation who asked Kimmel to construct a sermon that would speak directly to the needs of a couple experiencing difficulty in their marriage, he said. The importance of telling stories as anecdotes to apply in general ways to specific needs of his congregation was critical, he said.
“It’s hard to see the result of your ministry,” Kimmel said, adding that several members of the congregation have recently come to him to express their appreciation of his leadership. “In many cases, I wouldn’t have known if they didn’t tell me.”
Examples of his leadership, according to a press release, include the creation of the First Baptist Church Leadership Team, church renovations to better serve members and the community, Upward Sports Outreach, Faith in Action with several local public schools, his support of Habitat for Humanity and MUST Ministries, partnerships with other churches and building and leading an outstanding church staff. Kimmel said he’s proud of the youth group, where seventh- to 12th-grade students interact with senior adults who can show that “everybody important in the world isn’t a teenager.”
Kimmel said he understands that the congregations he served strengthened him as much as he guided them. This has affected the way Kimmel expressed his thoughts on grace, knowing those relationships are coming to a close.
“We’re all fallen people, and you have to learn how to forgive on a small scale and on a large scale,” Kimmel said, adding that grace is the major expression of God’s personality. “You have to translate some of that grace you enjoy receiving from God into your own personal relationships.”
Kimmel looks back across his opportunity to serve in a multi-generational church.
“I have had the privilege of access into people’s lives at every season of life, so I’ve been able to be close to people at some of the most important times in their lives.”
The way Kimmel describes being there for what he calls the “key markers of life” of births, weddings, deaths and divorces shows his appreciation for his own blessings.
“It has made me cherish or value my life because I have a keen appreciation for how brief and fragile life is,” he said. “This extended intimate exposure into people’s lives has made me more sympathetic to human foibles and failures.”
Because of his experience, Kimmel said he recognizes the importance of forgiveness and grace, and he’s more sympathetic now than when he was younger. Laughing, he said he was much smarter when he was younger.
“I knew almost everything when I was younger,” Kimmel said.
In accordance with the Baptist lifestyle, a new preacher will be chosen by the congregation and an interim preacher will serve until a permanent replacement is found, Kimmel said.
He is prepared to give his last sermon Sunday as his wife of almost 37 years plans to teach her last day at Kings Springs Elementary on Tuesday. Together, they plan to move to Venice Beach, Florida, where the weather is warm and the beach is close by, he said.