On December 7, 1941, seventeen-year old Paul B. Chandler, Jr. was on his way to Pinellas Park Presbyterian Church to preach his very first sermon at a youth rally for young people from all over Pinellas County, Florida. He had felt called to preach under the ministry of Pastor William R. Newell and had recently surrendered his life to this call to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the winds of war were beginning to blow, Pastor E.R. Barnard, his pastor at Central Presbyterian Church, had been discussing a county-wide youth rally with his friend who was the pastor of Pinellas Park Presbyterian Church, and, upon learning of young Paul Chandler’s desire to preach, they decided to “cut him loose,” and invited him to preach at the youth rally. He was happy for this opportunity to preach for the first time. As he turned on the radio in his car, while driving to the service, he heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor! With the realization heavy on his heart that the country would soon be entering into WWII and many young people would be answering the call to serve their country in the U.S. Armed Forces, he was burdened about the opportunity immediately before him as he would be preaching to those young people in those uncertain times. He had chosen as his sermon’s text, Romans 12:1&2: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Present at that service was his future wife, Esther Lillian Allen (Chandler). She was the one who, years later, reminded him that there were 18 young people who had surrendered their hearts to the Lord at that service. She said she was able to remember that number because he was turning 18 the week after he preached his first sermon!
In 1943, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Greenville, South Carolina. He served in WWII as a Staff Sergeant in the capacity of an MOS 766 High Speed Manual Radio Operator, part of the 3220th Signal Service Company, the only unit of its kind, consisting of 18 five-member mobile radio teams scattered throughout Europe, with the purpose of establishing a coordinated communications network across Europe using one Company, under the command and oversight of General Mark Clark. Staff Sergeant Chandler served as Team Chief in command of one of these five-member teams. His team was responsible for broadcasting from Omaha Beach on the first anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. His years of service were from March 1943-February 1946. The Lord preserved his life throughout his time of service in WWII. After he returned home, he married Esther Allen in St. Petersburg, Florida in April of 1947. They moved to Greenville, SC, where he attended Bob Jones University to prepare for the gospel ministry under the GI bill. He received his degree in 1951. For many years, in order to support his growing family, he served as a bi-vocational pastor. His first pastorate was a part time pastorate in Weaverville, NC, followed by pastorates at Naples Baptist Church and Cedar Springs Baptist Church. At the age of 55, he decided to take early retirement from Ciba/Geigy (now Novartis) Pharmaceutical Company, because he wanted to return to the mountains of Western North Carolina to spend the remaining years of his life in full-time pastoral service for as long as the Lord gave him the opportunity. Paul and Esther were married for almost 53 years before she went home to be with the Lord in March of 1999. The Lord blessed them with four daughters, Pamela Chandler Evans, Janice Chandler Worth, Sharon Chandler Wilking, and Susan Leigh Chandler. Three of their daughters married ministers, which brought great joy to them, knowing that their three sons-in-law were also serving as ordained ministers. The whole family rejoices in the covenant blessings of the Lord throughout the generations. The promises of Psalm 103:17-18 are a source of joy and encouragement: “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.” Precious Susie, their much loved daughter with Down Syndrome, went home to be with the Lord on December 11, 2007. His second wife, Betty King Chandler, has been his help-meet for the past sixteen years. He has been blessed with her three children, Cheryl, Cathy, and Bruce, and shares with her the joy of twelve grandchildren and twenty-six great-grandchildren
Pastor Chandler was honored recently for his 75 years in the ministry of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. His family and his church family held a reception in his honor at Upward Baptist Church in Flat Rock, North Carolina, on Saturday, November 26th. The reception was held a little before the actual date of his 75th anniversary, so that his daughter Janice and her husband Steve, missionaries for over 40 years to Scotland and England, could be present to share in the joy of this special occasion. Pastor Chandler is currently the full-time pastor of the Upward Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC, where, at the age of 92 (soon to be 93 on December 13th), he preaches three times a week, twice on the Lord’s Day and at the midweek prayer service on Wednesday evenings. He also enjoys teaching an Adult Bible study each summer when the church conducts Vacation Bible School. He visits his church members in times of sickness and bereavement and preaches many funerals in the Hendersonville area.
He has pastored multiple Baptist churches in Western North Carolina during the years of his ministry, serving on an interim basis or as full-time pastor.
The Lord has blessed “Pastor Paul,” as he is affectionately called by his church family. To God alone be the glory for the blessings of 75 years in His ministry.