News Articles

She came for two weeks, has stayed for 24 years

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–In 1974 Pat Wooley came to the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission planning to work a couple of weeks as a volunteer. On Feb. 26 of this year she will begin her 24th year as an employee of the agency.

“I was busy raising a family and teaching piano at home when J.P. Allen asked me to help answer the hundreds of letters the RTVC was receiving as a result of its radio program called ‘Powerline,'” she said. “In one month the program received more than 1,800 letters from teenagers.”

Allen had been Wooley’s pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas (where she and her husband have been members 37 years), prior to becoming vice president for audience response at the RTVC. “Powerline,” which is still going strong, was a 30-minute weekly program of music and spiritual help for teenagers.

“Back then, society was in shambles and ‘Powerline’ was one of the few programs that reached out to teenagers,” Wooley said. “The teenage listeners began to write asking for help with their problems and we wrote back, always including salvation material in every response letter. I corresponded with thousands of troubled teenage boys and girls over the years. In recent years I’ve heard back from several who I corresponded with when they were teenagers.

“It was nice to learn that some of them still have the letters I wrote to them years ago.”

Wooley has never been a stranger to the needs and problems of boys. She and her husband, Robert, have three sons. The Wooleys also have two grandchildren.

“As a teenager I felt God called me to missions,” Wooley said. “I was always active in GAs and became a church pianist. But people discouraged me from pursuing a missions career because of my health. I had polio as a child and a couple of surgeries when I was a teenager.

“Then I met Robert and got married, but I’ve always felt that God had something special for me to do in life. Then J.P. Allen called and I found myself ministering to others through correspondence counseling. To be honest, it’s not something I would ever have thought about choosing. But God put me here and he prepared me to do this specific thing.
In fact, everything I had ever done before prepared me for this.”

Wooley was born in Denton, Texas, and raised in Brownsville. When she was 14 she helped start a mission church in what was called the “southmost” part of the United States. Her father was choir director at the mission and she played the piano.

She said her family was always being pulled back to the Fort Worth area because her maternal and paternal grandparents lived there. So after graduating from high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, she came to Fort Worth to attend Texas Wesleyan University, where she majored in music.

When J.P. Allen called Wooley, she had three boys at home and her husband owned a small print shop.

“When I was asked to work full time at the RTVC, I felt as if it was a chance to pull everything together spiritually and professionally,” she said. “When J.P. Allen retired in 1979, I became director of correspondence counseling. When the RTVC launched ACTS, with the potential for direct evangelistic counseling, Fred Neyland was named director of telephone counseling.

“By the late ’80s the two were combined again and I had the responsibility for both.”

In order to better prepare herself for her RTVC responsibilities, Wooley went back to school. She earned a master of arts degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth in religion studies, majoring in ethics and theology and minoring in counseling.

Wooley said over the years the problems her area deals with have changed considerably.

“Today we’re dealing with an upheaval in moral and religious values, multiple personality disorder, sexual abuse and numerous other serious adult problems,” she said. “Fortunately, over the years we’ve created considerable material with which to deal with these problems. Much of the material we use as enclosures in our correspondence is now on our web pages on the Internet.

“Counseling plays a vital role in responding to inquiries stimulated by our radio and television programs and the Internet,” she said.

Wooley said she does not know whether she will have a role in the new North American Mission Board being created in the Southern Baptist Convention restructuring merging the RTVC and Home Mission Board and Brotherhood Commission into a new agency. But she said she has a sense of peace about it.

“I would be content to be a full-time grandmother and pursue my writing and other interests,” she said, “but I had hoped to work for the RTVC for 25 years.”

Over the years Wooley, founder of her church’s drama ministry, has written a half-dozen full-length religious dramas and numerous vignettes that have been performed at her church and others.

Laughing, she said, “You could say that everything I’ve written has been performed on Broadway,” she said, “or at least at Broadway (Baptist Church).”

    About the Author

  • C.C. Risenhoover