FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Paxton “Hutch” Hutchison has worked for the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission longer than any employee in the agency’s history.
Hutchison, who began his RTVC employment Sept. 17, 1962, said God’s hand was in his joining the commission because, “Back then I always asked God’s direction and did it my way.”
But, he admitted, “Though I had been a Southern Baptist pretty much all my life, I didn’t know anything about the Radio and Television Commission until just before I went to work here.”
Hutchison, who was a medic at a Nike missile site during service in the Army, had been discharged in the early 1960s and learned about the RTVC from his wife’s college roommate, whose mother worked at the agency.
“Her (wife’s college roommate) mother mentioned me to Carlyle Hayes, who was the RTVC controller at the time,” Hutchison said. “The guy who was handling the punch card equipment for the commission had found another job and was leaving, so Carlyle called and asked me to take over.”
The days of punch card equipment are, of course, gone. Hutchison is now network services manager for information services at the RTVC.
“When I started working at the RTVC, very few companies were using computers,” he said. “And the commission took a conservative approach in its use of this new technology. However, when Dr. (Jack) Johnson became president of the RTVC in 1990, we fast-forwarded our use of the technology and are now on the leading edge in all areas of communication. It has been exciting and I think it will become even more exciting.”
As to the changes he has seen at the RTVC over the years, he said, “From my perspective, with all the faults that all of us have, I can see that everyone who has been here has done some good for God’s kingdom.”
He is not sure what his status will be when the RTVC is merged into the new North American Mission Board, a merger also entailing the Home Mission Board and Brotherhood Commission, under the Southern Baptist Convention “Covenant for a New Century” restructuring. But, he said, “The Lord has richly blessed us, and I think some awesome things are about to happen when we start exploring new ways to use technology to reach people for Christ. When we use that technology, I hope and pray that we can say, ‘This is what Jesus would have done.'”
Born in Shreveport, La., in 1934, Hutchison’s family moved just south of Lubbock, Texas, when he was 8.
“My dad had worked at a bank for 25 years, but when he was 50 years old decided he wanted to farm,” he said. “And my mother got her college degree when she was 50 and started teaching. My parents were not afraid of change.
“When he was a teenager, my dad had spent a couple of
summers with an uncle who was a farmer. He loved it, so from the time he was in his teens he wanted to farm. So he just up and did it.”
If living on a farm taught him anything, Hutchison said, it was that material possessions have nothing to do with the worth of a person.
“The farm my dad bought had an indoor toilet, but I would often visit friends who didn’t have the more modern conveniences of the time,” he said. “At the homes of friends I often took a bath in a number 10 washtub.”
Hutchison said he was the typical deacon’s kid.
“I was saved when I was 8 years old and was always in church but as a teenager had some attitude problems,” he said. “We were always in a small church and I was never really discipled until I was in my 30s. The Lord started speaking to me pretty strongly from my mid- to upper 30s, which was when I really started reading the map (Bible).
“Of course, I could always find reasons for not reading it. But the Lord kept impressing on me how much I needed to be in his Word. I’m not the type to get up real early, but the Lord started waking me at 4 a.m. every day. And I was never more wide awake. For a couple of weeks I kept trying to go back to sleep, but eventually I gave in to what he wanted me to do.”
Hutchison, who attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, before going into the Army, said over the years his problem has been that he can’t read enough fast enough. He went through the Gospels several times before getting into the entire New Testament, which he has now read several times. He is not sure how many times he has read the entire Bible, but said he is not reading it to keep some sort of count anyway.
“I read long passages and I don’t get in a hurry,” he said. “If I have trouble understanding a passage, I read it over and over again.”
Hutchison and his wife, Gloria, have two children, one of whom is adopted. They have one grandchild.