Keith Hibbs was in the eighth grade when he first felt the call to music ministry.
“Everything from there to graduation from seminary in 1978 was preparation for that work,” he said.
And part of that was learning what music ministry at the state level looked like.
“I got to know a little bit about denominational work and the work of the church music office (at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions),” Hibbs said.
As a high school student, he experienced Music Week at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center, and he introduced himself to Paul Stewart, then director of the church music office.
Later down the road, after Hibbs graduated from seminary, he and Stewart reconnected, and Stewart invited him to join the Alabama Singing Men and then be a part of the faculty. In 1983, Stewart asked Hibbs to come on staff at SBOM as a consultant.
The rest is history.
“I have loved every minute of my opportunity to serve Alabama Baptist churches through the 38 years I’ve been at the State Board,” said Hibbs, who is retiring April 9.
Over the years, he has served in a variety of roles, most recently as director of the office of worship leadership and church music.
“It’s been a really interesting journey,” he said.
“I am very proud of our worship leaders in our local churches.”
Hibbs said he can’t think of any kind of ministry that’s had to adapt more in the past 38 years than music ministry.
“Our worship practices are so different now than they were in the 1980s, and our tools that we use are so different,” he said.
He said in recent decades, there has also been “tremendous movement” all over the Southern Baptist Convention to offer training opportunities at colleges and seminaries for music ministers to better address the needs of churches.
“There has been such an influx of trained church musicians to serve our churches,” Hibbs said.
Seeing that has been a blessing, along with the time he’s gotten to spend with state honor choirs and groups over the years. He began a youth music group called One Voice that traveled, as well as a band called Rock Solid that he led on a number of domestic and international missions trips.
Hibbs has also enjoyed working with the Alabama Singing Men and Alabama Singing Women and taking missions trips with them.
“I’ve enjoyed every way I’ve gotten to support the work of Alabama Baptist churches,” he said.
As Hibbs retires, Karen Gosselin, who has served in Hibbs’ office since 2007, will step into the role of coordinator of the office of worship resources.
Gosselin has a bachelor of music education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a master of music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
“She will be a resource person just like I have been,” Hibbs said. “She will coordinate how churches are resourced in the worship ministry from now on. She’s a very talented and resourceful person.”
As for his time at the SBOM, Hibbs said he is “very fortunate and thankful that God led me to the opportunity to serve in this way.”
Rick Lance, SBOM executive director, says Hibbs has “exemplified a servant attitude” throughout his ministry and served in his director role “with distinction.”
“Keith Hibbs has given his life to ministry through the State Board of Missions. He values relationships with people. He knows that ministry runs on the rails of relationships,” Lance said. “He has an admirable walk with God. He has always sought to be a prayer partner with those in need. I have appreciated every aspect of his ministry with us, and we will continue to call upon him when various needs arise.”