Tarkio Presbyterian Church’s Pastor Will Ratcliff was ordained Sunday, July 22, 2018. Ninety people attended the ceremony.
Submitted By Anne Amthor
William “Will” Ratcliff was ordained Sunday, July 22, 2018, at a ceremony held in the sanctuary of the Tarkio Presbyterian Church. Ninety people attended the event. Pastor Ratcliff is the 21st pastor to serve the congregation, which held their first service in June of 1891 with a membership of 16.
The current building, located at 7th and Maple Streets in Tarkio, was built in 1896. The structure was built under the supervision of David Rankin and was designed to be the eventual county courthouse. But a vote of the people of the county resulted in the location of the county courthouse to be located in Rock Port.
Originally from McComb, Mississippi, Will attended J.J. White Memorial Presbyterian Church. He graduated from McComb High School and was actively involved in the school’s marching band. As a young boy he enjoyed camping and riding bikes and playing music with both the saxophone and guitar.
When he was sixteen he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was removed with surgery followed by radiation treatments which took place while he was still going to school. Will believes the experience helped him grow spiritually and showed him what the community of Christ can and should look like. He is in complete remission now and has been for almost 17 years. “This experience showed me at very early age that life is a very precious gift and that each day I have is not to be taken for granted,” he said.
Will attended the University of Southern Mississippi and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing. After receiving his degree, he pursued many different careers, most of them in sales. After some time, he realized that the world of business wasn’t the place he was meant to be, and it was evident to him that God was calling him to a life of ministry, specifically ministry as a pastor.
In August of 2010, after some searching, consideration, and prayer, Will decided that the new journey to which God was calling him to was to attend and begin his studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Columbia he did pulpit supply and went on school sponsored preaching trips. Will spent one summer at the Grand Canyon with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) as part of group who held services on the rim of the canyon at sunset and on Sunday mornings. He did an internship at Waverly Road Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, where he learned a lot about relationship building as part of the work of being a pastor. Will took part in a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship at Northside Hospital in Atlanta and was witness to “more human tragedy than he likes to think about”. Through these experiences he was able to develop skills and hone his own talents for preaching and pastoral care. These experiences also helped to affirm his sense of call to ministry.
While in seminary Will met his wife, Bonnie. They celebrated their third anniversary this June. Will graduated seminary in 2014. Following a call from the Pastoral Nominating Committee of Tarkio Presbyterian Church, Will and Bonnie came to Tarkio and met with the PNC. After hearing the members of the committee talk about their church, its history, and the mission work they did in their community, Will felt the Holy Spirit speaking to him and he knew that this was the place God wanted him to be.
In August of 2015, Will and Bonnie moved to Tarkio to serve the congregation as their student pastor. He is a member of the Tarkio Ministerial Alliance, the Mule Barn Theatre Guild, the Food Pantry Board and the Tarkio Rotary Club. Will, Bonnie and Jami DeRosier are co-sponsors of the high school youth group in Tarkio. He served as Guild coordinator of the Missoula Children’s Theatre production of King Arthur’s Quest in July.