August 30, 2010
OBU alum Earl Bigelow, age 92, preached what he intended to be his final sermon on Sunday, Aug. 22, at First Baptist Church in Pacific Beach, Calif. Bigelow has served as a Baptist minister for more than 70 years.
Bigelow chose to conclude his preaching now, rather than wait for his health to determine his final message, said his Ruby Bigelow, his wife of 67 years. The couple married in February 1943.
“However, his decision does not preclude anything that the Lord may have for him in the future,” Ruby Bigelow said.
Bigelow fishes to feed people who are hungry, such as the homeless, people in recovery programs such as CRASH and Set Free, church groups, children and senior adults. Having lived through the Great Depression, Bigelow said he knows what it feels like to be hungry. The Bigelows plan to continue to host fish fries for groups including people in the Tijuana, Mexico, area. Bigelow catches most of the fish, and he has fed more than 1,000 people in the past several years.
Bigelow arrived on Bison Hill in 1939 as a ministerial student. He earned a bachelor’s degree from OBU in 1944. During his time on campus, he served as president of the student body and taught golf for one year. He worked on the press for 20 cents per hour, which was applied to his tuition. During the 1943-44 academic year, he had the honor of crowning the Harvest Queen. He also served as pastor of a mission and a church while attending OBU.
He has served as pastor of 15 churches and missions in his lifetime. He retired from a full-time pastorate in 1982 at First Baptist Church in Santee, Calif. He recently received the Heritage Award from the California Southern Baptist Convention in recognition of outstanding contributions to the cause of Southern Baptist history in the state.
Bigelow said two outstanding experiences in his ministry include baptizing a woman named Sarah Wright on her 100th birthday in Norman, Okla., and conducting her funeral at age 104. Also, Bigelow’s father accepted Jesus Christ as his savior during a revival where Earl was preaching and, soon after, chose to become a preacher.
The Bigelows currently reside in San Diego, Calif.