Walter Price worked as a high school teacher and coach, an admissions counselor at MC, and a regional coordinator with the Mississippi State Board of Health before heading to Hollywood in 1974 to pursue a career as an actor.
“Have you ever seen the movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Sting?” Price asks, then adds with a smile, “Well, I wasn’t in either one of those.”
But a funny thing happened in Hollywood. Price went there to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a movie star, but instead found himself called to the ministry.
“It was a gradual process God used in my life,” Price recalls. “I had grown up in the church, but it was while I was in Hollywood, working in local theatre and landing bit parts in TV shows, that I came to have a real hunger for the word of God and truly came to know the Lord.”
Following his graduation from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Price served at churches in Mississippi and Georgia before returning to California in 1984 as pastor at Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, a position he still holds today. Price has noticed some differences in the way “church” is perceived in California as opposed to Mississippi.
“In the Deep South, ‘church’ is a cultural thing. Sometimes people attend church because it’s good for business or the socially acceptable thing to do,” Price says. “In California, things are black and white. It’s refreshing, and can be easier to talk to people who have no thought of God than to people who pretend they do.”
Price is the current president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and chairman of the board of trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His other leadership roles have included multiple positions on the California Southern Baptist Convention’s executive board, as well as service as president of the California Southern Baptist Pastors Conference and a member of the board of trustees of California Baptist University. He is the author of two books, God Focus and The Simple Truth of Grace, and writes a blog titled “It’s That Simple.” Price and his wife of 31 years, Janet Jones Price, have five adult children.
After making his home in the Golden State for more than a quarter century, Price considers himself a Californian. The Tupelo native does, however, acknowledge a few things he misses about Mississippi.
“I miss the people, including the many friends I made at Mississippi College. I haven’t seen some of those friends in more than 30 years, but I know if I picked up the phone and called today, it would be just like old times,” Price says. “After that, I’d have to say that what I miss the most is grits. And I don’t think I’ll ever get used to a church potluck that features Mexican food instead of fried chicken.”