By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LEESVILLE – To say Lloyd Handorf wears many hats is an understatement.
In the 40 years he has been a member of Old Anacoco Baptist Church, he has held just about every role in the church imaginable, from youth director to interim pastor.
“There was no doubt God’s hand was in my coming to Old Anacoco,” said Handorf, who serves as music minister. “I always have that clear in my mind. I believe if it is for me to leave for some other place He will be just as clear.”
For his service to the church, the Old Anacoco congregation and others who knew him surprised Handorf in a special recognition service. Nearly 225 people attended the day, which included several past members of the church and choir and brother, sister, children, grand-children, nieces, and in-laws traveling from Colorado and several locations in Texas and Louisiana.
During his time there, Handorf’s other roles have included deacon, Sunday school teacher, New York and Nicaragua on mission trips, and committee member. He’s even served as Vernon Baptist Association music director and vice moderator.
Pat McRae, Handorf’s sister-in-law as well as a fellow member, calls him the heartbeat of the church.
“He’s the person if you needed anything he would be there to do it with a smile on his face and laughter,” McRae said. “If you have a question about the church, ask Lloyd. If he doesn’t know the answer, he knows who can get it for you.”
Though Handorf has lived in Leesville for 40 years, he actually spent the first 21 years of his life in his native state of Texas. Born in Palestine, Texas, Handorf had plans to grow up and retire in the Lone Star State, where he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and felt the call to ministry.
However, God had other plans for his life.
After graduating from high school in Palestine, Handorf was in the service with the US Army. He spent time serving Christ around the world in Korea, Vietnam, and California to North Carolina.
During that time, he was assigned as a chaplain’s administrator. His duties included leading the music portion of the worship services at the chapels where he was assigned, leading choirs at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Chapel in Fort Bragg, NC, and providing a cappella music leadership while having services in the field while in Vietnam.
“We would have services every day in the field because the soldiers were so scattered and couldn’t be gathered as a large group,” Handorf recalled. “The chaplain (in Vietnam) was a Church of God minister and when he found I could sing fairly well, he told me he just knew God had sent me to work with him.”
After touring the US and world for more than two decades, Handorf’s journey eventually made its way through Fort Polk, an army training base next to Leesville, in early 1975 for a second time. New to the area, Handorf attended the only chapel service he knew about on the base, where he took basic training in 1963.
After asking Sgt. Larry Datweiller, the chaplain administrator, if any small churches needed someone to lead music, Handorf was introduced to Sgt. Leroy Thompson, a cook in the military, who attended Old Anacoco Baptist church that was needing the services of one.
Handorf met with the Pastor Homer Fondren of Old Anacoco Baptist Church, Leroy Thompson, Edmund Smart, and Charles Underwood from the church, who invited him to lead music for their prayer meeting that following Wednesday evening.
And, of course, Handorf has remained at Old Anacoco Baptist Church ever since.
To faithfully serve a church in so many capacities for 40 years, support from one’s family is vital.
Handorf said he is grateful for all of the encouragement his wife, children and parents showed toward him.
“It’s an absolute necessity,” Handorf said. “All of my family is involved in some kind of ministry wherever they may be. They understand and accept you being absent for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. My mother and father set an example for each of us five children to follow and we all have tried to do the best we can. God was always first in our home.”
His three sons – one of which is a deacon and his wife plays the keyboard – and daughters are not music ministers but active in ministry at their respective churches and one daughter is worship leader at her respective church where her husband is pastor.
His wife, Priscilla (Sippy), is the nursery coordinator at Old Anacoco Baptist.
His brother is music director at Memory Lane Baptist in Palestine, Texas and his wife is a pianist, while another brother who died in 2009 was music director at First Baptist Church of Greggton, just west of Longview, Texas.
A nephew is a youth director and the other a music director at East Mountain Baptist outside of Longview, Texas.
Two grandsons are active in music at their churches – one is on the keyboard and the other on the drums/guitar.
For those ministers who are just starting out their journey, Handorf encourages them to make themselves available to any opportunity to serve Christ.
“We have a tendency to try to limit God in our service by labeling ‘our calling,’” he said. “Changing diapers, repairing plumbing leaks, roofing, mowing yards, painting rooms, cleaning, delivering bad news to parents and spouses of the loss of loved ones, participating in funeral services, transporting children/youth everywhere, music, teaching, preaching, witnessing. A large portion of tasks don’t exactly sound like ‘our calling’ but it is
“Don’t try to set boundaries for your service,” Handorf continued. “All I did when I arrived in Louisiana was to ask one question – do you know a small church that might need someone to help with the music? That very day Jesus Christ answered my question.”