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IFB Pastor Ralph Wingate, Jr. Uses Me as a Sermon Illustration

ralph wingate jr

From 1976 to 1979, I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan, to prepare myself for the ministry. Students were required to attend chapel services every day. Over the course of the three years I spent at Midwestern, I heard many of the big-name Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers preach during chapel. If you were a preacher boy like I was, you wanted to hear these mightily-used-of-God preachers. One such preacher was Ralph Wingate, Jr.

Wingate, the son of a preacher, was a graduate of Midwestern.  In 1973, Wingate went to Newington, Connecticut to plant a new church, Emmanuel Baptist Church. The church was wildly successful and this made Wingate a favorite son of Midwestern’s chancellor, Tom Malone.

In August of 1983, Wingate assumed the pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, Illinois. Due to health problems, Wingate retired in December 2013. He pastored Calvary for 30 years. Currently, Wingate is the interim pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Racine, Wisconsin.

Wingate, after stumbling upon my blog, used me as a warning, a cautionary tale, in one of his sermons. I learned about Wingate using me as an illustration from a reader who just so happened to be in the service that day. I have spies everywhere! 🙂

What follows is an audio clip of the part of the sermon that mentioned me.


Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    Ralph Wingate Jr. may have retired as a full time pastor from Calvary Baptist Church in Normal Illinois but he did not stop from being involved from some type of religious activity. He functioned as an interim pastor at three different churches. From November of 2014 to December of 2015 he was the interim pastor at one non-denominational church fifteen miles away from Calvary Baptist in Normal, Illinois. From April of 2018 to Early November of 2020 he was the interim pastor of Oak street Baptist Church in Burlington Iowa. From April 2021 to the present he has been the interim pastor of Calvary Memorial Church of Racine Wisconsin. He had been involved with some time of Bible Prophecy class called Until He Returns that was headquartered in Morton Illinois. This group had a radio program that was broadcast on WPEO. Those are the call letters of an evangelical Christian radio station in Peoria Illinois. That group dissolved early in 2020. Ralph Wingate stopped being involved in that group due to his taking the interim pastor position in Burlington Iowa.

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    When it comes to Ralph Wingate Jr.’s preaching often he would use some story in a sermon that he probably got off the Internet. one time he told one of some man running in some Olympic marathon who collapsed at the wrong finishing place. He also did one on an anecdote of Alexander Fleming’s father saving a young Winston Churchill from drowning and a grateful Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, paying for Alexander Fleming’s education which resulted in Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin. then Winston Churchill’s life was saved once again when penicillin was used to to cure Winston Churchill off some illness. Instead of the race being some Olympic marathon, the only thing close to that description that I am aware of occurred in the British empire Games in 1954. Ralph Wingate Jr. might have given that sermon some years before the Article in the Knollwood Church of Christ appeared in 2010. this is in regards to the Alexander Fleming-Winston Churchill anecdote.

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    Stanley Mdluli

    Well i don’t have any comment but i would like to ask concerning the Church of Jesus now in this erra and i would like to know what are you doing now Mr Bruce G in as far as the Doctrine that Jesus preached and his disciples as the Bible compells us to continu e in the Doctrine of the apostles yet what we see is totally not the patten of the earch Mr Bruce G so where is the sound Doctrine?

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      Stanley, if there ever was a Jesus he’s been dead for nearly 2000 years. His “Church” consists 100% of fanbois and fangrrls who never met him.

      The Gospel authors are also unknown, with the first fragments of manuscripts showing up many decades after the supposed time of Jesus and none of them were written by eye witnesses, so it’s highly probable that “the Doctrine that Jesus preached” is just fiction that someone made up.

      (As for the Bible, I’d rather get “doctrine” from a Spider-Man comic. The aphorism “With great power comes great responsibility” is morally vastly superior to anything in the New Testament.)

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    The idea that I might be used as someone’s sermon illustration was always in my mind while I was leaving the church.Having listened to many sermons, I noticed that pastors are kind of like stand up comedians in that they are always looking for new material. I didn’t share my thoughts with my pastors towards the end, because I was pretty sure they’d incorporate it into sermon material and use me as a character. Even if unnamed, some people in the congregation might be able to figure out they were alluding to me.

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    Brocken This is a sermon that Ralph Wingate Jr.. gave at Calvary Memorial church in Racine Wisconsin on July 24, 2022. At about 29: 40 of the sermon Pastor Ralph Wingate JR. is relating the story of the man running down the aisle and getting saved. This man decided to become a pastor after being “saved”. While Ralph Wingate Jr. brought up the man pastoring a church and taking the church out of the ” American Baptist Association” ( Actually it was the American Baptist Churches-USA)., he did not bring up the fact that the man is not currently pastoring any church. Actually after this man was forced to resign from the pastorate in late October or early November of 2014, Ralph Wingate JR. became the interim pastor of that same church. Ralph Wingate JR. pastored that church until late in 2015.

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Bruce Gerencser