Ricky 2018 (1).JPG

Ricky Willis

The Rev. Ricky Willis, lead pastor at Zachary United Methodist Church, has announced his retirement from the ministry with the United Methodist Church after 38 years, seven of those with the Zachary congregation.

While Willis is formally retiring from the United Methodist denomination, his call to a new form of ministry is just beginning as he will be the executive director of Loaves and Fishes, an agency that feeds the hungry, in Clarksville, Tennessee, beginning in April.

In a recent letter to members of the Zachary congregation, Willis said, "Being the son of a United Methodist pastor, it has been my life for as long as I can remember. Each of the churches we’ve served have blessed us in countless ways."

His wife, Marie Willis, is a teacher at Louisiana Key Academy in Baton Rouge. Marie has contributed to the media production responsibilities at the church as well as serving as encourager to her husband of 41 years.

Daughter Michelle Willis, a contemporary Christian recording artist, has already begun a new assignment and recently accepted a position at First United Methodist Church in Minden, as the worship leader for its 2nd Street Worship and director of junior high ministries.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Michelle Willis has provided musical performances in the area over the years, including Christmas in the Village, the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, and many fundraising events.

“In the past seven years, our church has seen great change with Pastor Ricky’s leadership. He was instrumental in fulfilling a longtime dream of many congregants to add a contemporary service to our Sunday morning schedule. Over the years, the new service has flourished and brought many new families and members to our congregation. We wish the Willis family only the best in their new endeavors and we will miss them all,” said Amanda Brunson, chair of the Church Council for Zachary United Methodist.

A farewell reception will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11, in the church Fellowship Hall. Refreshments will be served. Cards and a love offering will be received. The Zachary community is invited.

Zachary United Methodist Church is at 4205 Church St., next to Zachary High School. The church has served the Zachary community for 132 years. For information, contact the church office at (225) 654-2389.