Rev. Bobby Stout is having to make some huge adjustments in his lifestyle due to exacerbating health problems. Stout, who has served as pastor of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church for the past 43 years, announced his retirement a few weeks ago. “It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I just was no longer able to pastor,” he said this week. “I have a pacemaker, some stints, and am dealing with congestive heart failure as well as other health issues, so it was time to step down.”
Stout has not only been Pleasant Beach’s pastor, but was pastor to all of Carter County. He visited almost daily in the local and area hospitals, at nursing homes, and even the funeral homes. “If they were friends of my church members, I counted them my friends. Over the years I have become acquainted with a lot of people and made a lot of friends, and have enjoyed ministering,” he said.
Pleasant Beach was the only church that Stout ever pastored. “They are good people, were always good to me, loved me and have stood by me all these years,” he shared.
Stout said he answered the call to preach at a camp meeting in Nebo, N.C., under the preaching of Dr. Curtis McCarley. “The Lord touched my heart and I walked the sawdust trail,” he said. At the time he was working at the local rayon plants. “I went to work at the plants when I got out of high school and worked there eight years total. I worked on at the plants for two years after I began pastoring at Pleasant Beach,” Stout said.
Preacher Stout grew up in Hampton. “My father died when I was nine years old and my mother passed away when I was a junior in high school. Times were hard when I was growing up, but they were for most people back then. About the only difference between people during that time was that some took more baths than others,” he joked.
Stout was a sophomore member of the 1960 State Champion Basketball Team at Hampton High School. Two years later, the Bulldog team made it to the state finals, only to be beaten in six overtimes by Knox East. “I made a lot of friends playing sports, and some of those friendships continue to this day,” the preacher said, noting that several of the boys he played ball with went on to full-time Christian ministry. Among them were Larry Montgomery, Willie Malone, Ray Greene, L.D. and Jeff Campbell.
Looking back, Stout said having lost his parents when he was young had helped him minister to others in that same situation. “Those memories, those heartaches always came back when I visited with someone who had lost a mother or father or child. I understood their hurt, their pain,” he said.
During his ministry he has officiated at hundreds of funerals and memorial services. “I never kept up with the number, but I have two small filing cabinets full of little ‘In Memoriam’ folders from those services. Brother Willard Tallman told me one day, ‘Son, you ought to keep those little folders for a record.’ So, I did,” explained Stout, noting he had already been preaching a few years before he began keeping the folders. He has also officiated at a large number of weddings, and the messages he has prepared number into the thousands. More importantly, Stout said he had seen a large number of people saved during his ministry at Pleasant Beach and had baptized most of them.
Additionally, he did a number of revivals during his ministry. “I had a lot of revival opportunities, but I was always busy with my church, which I felt was more important,” he explained.
In addition to his ministry at the church and in the community, Rev. Stout had a radio ministry for many years.
To the community, Stout is known for his hospital visits. He has stood by the bedside of many — whether he knew them or not — and offered a prayer for the sick and their family. He visited morning and night and all through the day.
When he began his ministry at Pleasant Beach, Stout said the congregation was small — only about 32 people. The church began to grow and during his ministry, the congregation built a new sanctuary, added classrooms and a fellowship hall, built a parsonage and bought some properties. “We were among the first to start a bus ministry. Through our bus ministry we began reaching out into the community and were able to reach many people, who did not attend church,” Stout explained.
He said the biggest challenge of his ministry was dealing with death and ministering to the grieved. “It’s a time in their life when they are hurting the most, and as a result you hurt with them. There’s nothing that hurts any more than an aching heart,” Stout shared.
About his daily visit to the hospitals and funeral homes, the pastor said, “Everyone has been so good to me — the whole community. I’ve appreciated the privilege to serve people, not only in my church, but in the community. I never did try to pull people from other churches. I always had a lot of respect for my pastor brethren and a love for them,” Stout said.
Stout and his wife, Janice, are the parents of three children, Tawana, Lawana and Bobby Jr. In addition, they have five grandchildren.
Now, that’s he retired, Stout said he intends to follow his doctor’s orders and do a lot of resting. “I have a big lounge chair that I’m going to use a lot,” he said.