The Rev. Leon McIntyre, 79, who spent much of his career leading one of the oldest black churches this side of the Allegheny Mountains, died Tuesday.
McIntyre was pastor at First African Baptist Church in Lexington for 33 years. He researched the history of the church and saw it through construction projects that positioned it for the future.
“We’re losing a church father,” said the Rev. Nathl Moore, who succeeded McIntyre as pastor at First African Baptist in 2009.
McIntyre helped oversee construction of a new church on Price Road that replaced the building the church had occupied for 154 years at Short and Deweese streets. The church also converted the old Douglass School building into apartments for senior citizens during his tenure.
McIntyre was a scholarly man, respected for his theological insights.
“As much as he knew, he had a burning desire to know more,” Moore said. “He had an insatiable desire for wanting to know the word of God.”
He also was known for helping younger preachers along.
Moore said McIntyre inspired him to continue his theological education and had planned to be there when Moore receives his doctorate next month.
“He loved challenging our thinking,” Moore said.
McIntyre was a former moderator of the Consolidated Baptist District Association and the Kentucky Missionary Baptist Association, which he was active in founding.
McIntyre had continued to work with the latter as superintendent of missions, teaching classes and leading workshops across the state for other pastors, said the Rev. Moses Radford, pastor of First Baptist Church of Nicholasville.
The Rev. T. H. Peoples, pastor of Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, remembered his friend “Mac” as “a statesman.”
“He’s an educator, he’s a builder, he’s a writer, and he has the respect of all of us as a senior, well-versed pastor in difficult teaching,” Peoples said.
Both Pleasant Green and First African Baptist consider themselves descendants of a church founded in 1790 by a slave named Peter “Brother Captain” Duerett, and McIntyre devoted himself to uncovering that history.
Before coming to First African Baptist, McIntyre spent 10 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Georgetown.
He received a bachelor’s of arts degree from Kentucky State University and a master’s of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Lexington Theological Seminary.
He is survived by his wife, Mary McIntyre; a son, Leon McIntyre II; and grandchildren.
Services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday at First African Baptist Church. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the church.