Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ronald Preston Byars, October 30, 1990

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Today is Tuesday October the 30th, nineteen-and-ninety.

Segment Synopsis: Reverend Dr. Ronald P. Byars is introduced. He talks about growing up in Nebraska, his family background, and his father's occupation.

Keywords: Brothers; Church of the Nazarene; College; Family reunions; Fathers; Grandparents; Jobs; Mothers; Nazarenes; Nebraska; Occupations; Parents; Store managers; Working

Subjects: Childhood and youth; Families.; Family histories.; Family life; Family--history; Religion

GPS: Nebraska
Map Coordinates: 41.5, -100
00:05:31 - Education

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about your education. You said you went to high school in your hometown and then where did you go to college?

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about attending Lafayette College, Texas Christian University, and the University of Nebraska for his undergraduate education. He attended Yale Divinity School for his masters and Michigan State University for his doctorate. He talks about his college majors, and meeting his future wife.

Keywords: College majors; Dating; Friends; Hebrew; High school; Lafayette College; Languages; Married; Michigan State University; Ministry; New Testament; Susan Byars; Texas Christian University; University of Nebraska; Yale Divinity School

Subjects: Career changes.; Christian education.; College students; College students--Attitudes.; Education, Higher; Religion

GPS: Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.)
Map Coordinates: 42.723, -84.481
00:10:59 - Preaching in the Christian Church before converting to Presbyterianism

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Partial Transcript: And after you finished at Yale where was your first pastorage?

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about working in the Christian Church when he first became a minister. He talks about why he decided to leave the Disciples of Christ and why he chose to become a Presbyterian. He talks about the churches he preached at in Michigan.

Keywords: Christian Church; Denominations; Disciples of Christ; Fremont (Mich.); Ministers; Pastorates; Preaching; Presbyterians; Sons; United Presbyterian Church; Youth ministers

Subjects: Career changes.; Clergy; Presbyterian Church--Membership; Religion

GPS: Okemos (Mich.)
Map Coordinates: 42.716667, -84.433333
00:16:40 - Becoming pastor at Second Presbyterian Church

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Partial Transcript: So, um, in nineteen-and-eighty, I believe it was September, you came to Lexington.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about how he learned of a position at Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He talks about meeting with the members of the pastor-seeking committee as well as the interim pastor, Betty Blanton. He talks about the reception he received at the church once he was offered the position.

Keywords: Betty Blanton; Colleagues; Congregation; Gordon Bechtel; Home visits; Interim pastor; Interviews; Lexington (Ky.); Pastor-seeking committee; Robbie Staples; Stewardship; Welcoming; Wes Garrigus

Subjects: Church committees.; Church membership; Clergy--Kentucky; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:23:49 - Making changes as the new pastor of Second Presbyterian

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Partial Transcript: Well I'm sure as you started your ministry here, um, it was kind of getting used to things and then planning for the future.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about his attempts to attract more young people to the church, offer more adult education options, and improve the church facilities, among other changes. He talks about adding another Sunday morning service at 8:30. He talks about the changes that occurred in church leadership shortly after he arrived.

Keywords: Adult education; Ages; Attendance; Betsy Steiner; Bible class; Church growth; Communion service; Congregation; Director of Christian Education; Elderly; Forum group; Gordon Bechtel; House calls; Leaving; Mission commitment; Music; Nurturing; Older members; Options; Planning; Programming; Robbie Staples; Session; Stability; Visits; Younger members

Subjects: Change; Church membership; Clergy--Kentucky; Presbyterian Church--Membership; Presbyterian church buildings; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.); Sunday schools

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:33:30 - Capital Funds Program

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned the Capital Funds thing, which has been a big thing since you've been here.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about the purpose of the Capital Funds Program, where the money came from, and the results of the program.

Keywords: 175th Anniversary; Capital Funds Program; Cost; Donations; Gary White; Jim Abbott; Jim Host; Pledges; Renovations; Results; Trustees

Subjects: Church buildings--Kentucky.; Church maintenance and repair; Construction; Presbyterian church buildings; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:36:16 - New programs at Second Presbyterian

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Partial Transcript: We have some new programs in the church that, um, I'd like for you to tell us about like Helping Hands, and the parish nurse, and ecumenical preschool.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about some of the new programs offered by Second Presbyterian Church or housed in their facilities. He talks about the Helping Hands program which assists Alzheimer's patients and their families, the ecumenical preschool, and the parish nurse who assists with health issues and health education. He talks about how the programs are funded, why Second Presbyterian partnered with the programs, and the results of the programs.

Keywords: Advisory committees; Aging; Alzheimer's disease; Christ Church Cathedral; Day cares; Ecumenical preschools; Facilities; Funds; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church; Health Education Resource Center; Health issues; Helping Hands program; Kathy Blomquist; Meals on Wheels; Needs; Parish nurses; Ruth Barry; Session; Social workers; University of Kentucky College of Nursing; University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging; Virginia Bell

Subjects: Church work; Churches--Kentucky; Community life; Counseling.; Disabilities; Health care issues, costs, and access; Presbyterian church buildings; Religious facilities.

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:49:36 - Community involvement

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Partial Transcript: I forgot to mention back in, I guess, 1983 after Gordon left that Roy Howard became our associate minister.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about associate minister Roy Howard and his work with the prison visitation ministry. He talks about his own work with the Samaritan Counseling Center, the Appalachian Regional Hospital, and the research he conducted for the book "Confessional Mosaic."

Keywords: "Confessional Mosaic"; American Presbyterianism; Appalachian Regional Hospital; Associate ministers; Banquets; Bourbon County (Ky.); Cane Ridge Day; Disciples of Christ; Downtown Lexington; Fees; Funding; History; Honors; Prison visitation ministry; Published; Research team; Roy Howard; Samaritan Counseling Center; Social work; Support; Trustees; United Mine Workers Hospital; Visits; Wayne Oates; Writing

Subjects: Christian authors; Church work; Clergy--Kentucky; Community life; Counseling.; Health care issues, costs, and access; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.); Volunteers

01:01:06 - Sabbatical / family

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Partial Transcript: Another thing that happened this summer, um, I think our congregation felt that after ten years you deserved a little respite and--(laughs)--relief, uh, so you had a sabbatical.

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about taking a month-long trip across Europe during his sabbatical. He talks about his wife's career at the University of Kentucky, and talks about his sons' educations and careers.

Keywords: Careers; College; Europe; Jobs; Married; Masters degree; Minister wives; Sabbaticals; Sons; Susan Byars; Traveling; University of Kentucky; Vacations

Subjects: Children.; Clergy--Kentucky; Education, Higher; Families.; Family life

01:08:02 - Planning for the future

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Partial Transcript: Are there any other th--programs--I always ask the question, "What do you see for the future of the church?" and before we do that do you think of anything else going on that you'd like to mention or anything that, uh, we haven't touched on?

Segment Synopsis: Byars talks about the growth of the church, the importance of reaching out to young people, the changing role of the church, and how the church can attract people without sacrificing its values. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Baby Boomers; Church growth; Funeral services; Innovation; Intuitiveness; John Grimes; Mainstream; Margot Cook; Needs; Role of church; Role of religion; Young people; Youth ministers

Subjects: Change; Children.; Church management.; Church membership; Clergy--Kentucky; Religion; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626