CENTRAL CITY, Ky. (6/16/14) — Millions of fathers and sons took time Sunday to enjoy being together on Father's Day.
But for Enoch David Rich, pastor of Living Word Church in Central City, Father's Day was extra-special. His father, Muhlenberg County native, Dave Rich Sr., conducted services at Living Word Church at both 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
The elder Rich, now in his 80s, recently moved back to Muhlenberg County after more than half a century as an evangelist based in Texas. He has spent his life spreading the word of God throughout the U.S. and the world.
In 1956, Rich turned his back on what was a fast rising career in rock music.
After a tearful introduction by Pastor Enoch David Rich, Dave Rich spoke to the congregation about growing up in Central City, and having to make the difficult choice between following his dream of becoming a rock n roll star or following God's call for him to preach the Gospel.
Rich was mentored and produced in those early days at RCA by the legendary Chet Atkins. Rich's star was rising fast, with major hits like "Red Sweater", and one of the first recordings of Bill Anderson's "City Lights". Atkins begged Rich to keep following his dream of success in the music business. But as Rich began to gain national attention, he said he felt he must heed the call of God to preach the Gospel.
Rich walked to the podium slowly, but once he began to preach to the congregation, it was clear how this tall, gray haired man with an infectious smile has reached thousands with his clear message and razor sharp sense of humor.
"You'll have to excuse me a minute," Rich told the gathering. "I have to get me a drink of water. My false teeth are slipping out."
Reminiscing of his time as a popular evangelist in Texas with admirers who include Willie Nelson, Rich joked about his Kentucky slang catching on with his congregations in the Lone Star state.
"When I went to Texas," Rich said, "everyone was saying, 'Hallelujah'. But pretty soon I taught them the right way to say it. It's Halleluyer! Now can I get a Halleluyer from you all?"
The crowd responded in kind. The service went from laughter to tears of joy, and numerous members of the congregation felt lead to come to the altar as Rich laid hands on several, and let out a loud "Whoa, thank you Jesus".
Victoria Rich, the daughter of Enoch and Carmel Rich, told SurfKY News that the family feels blessed that her grandfather has come home to Muhlenberg County.
"When I found out he was moving back, I was so excited," she said. "Our dad has been in the ministry here in Muhlenberg County for 24 years. To have our grandfather here now is such an honor and means so much to the entire Rich family."To say the least, this was one Father's Day the Rich family and the Living Word Church congregation will cherish for years to come.
SurfKY News Photos/Paul McRee
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