Bill and Karen Banks moved from Oregon so Bill could become pastor of the Central Christian Church. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer
Bill Banks is a mail-order preacher.
Or at least that’s the tongue-in-cheek story he tells about how he came to be the new pastor of Central Christian Church.
Actually, he was hired by phone.
The 53-year-old said he sought a pastorship in New Mexico because “his wife needed to dry out.”
Actually, his wife, Karen, suffers from reactive airway disease and fibromyalgia, and needed to move from Oregon to somewhere warm and dry because rain exacerbated her medical conditions.
Before moving to Clovis three weeks ago, the couple served at a Christian church in Oregon for seven years.
“We were in the wet side of the state,” Banks said, “and my wife was in misery (due to her medical condition), so we decided to come preach to the tumbleweeds.”
The California native, who refers to his home state as the “crooked state,” has served in ministry for 27 years. He said his prior experience includes working with youth groups and ministering to inmates.
“He (Bill) likes to tease and tell people he spent time in prison,” his wife said.
Banks said he makes light of situations because otherwise life would be dull.
The pastor talks with his hands and intersperses his conversation with sound effects. His petite 44-year-old wife has clear blue eyes and vibrates with energy.
Both wear a constant smile on their open faces.
The gregarious couple, who were married 12 years ago, finish each other’s sentences and show affection without embarrassment.
Bill Banks said their first year of marriage, which was spent team driving a semi-truck, set the course for their happy marriage.
“We were shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “So, we had to let go of things like (mind) games.”
When the couple isn’t conducting church business, they said they enjoy shopping for antiques, gardening, garage sales and music. They also open their home to anyone in need, they said.
“We don’t have children,” Karen Banks said, “because we adopt the kids and old people in the church.”
The couple said they are slowly settling into their new Clovis home and looking forward to connecting with their new congregation and others in the area.
“I spent seven years breaking down barriers in Oregon because people there were private,” Bill Banks. “But I’ve already found that people here are courteous.”
“We love it here (in Clovis),” Karen Banks said. “New Mexico has always been one of my favorite states.”
Taking the bus
Bill and Karen Banks describe themselves as “budget maniacs.”
In order to save thousands of dollars in moving fees, the frugal couple opted to purchase an old, 35-seat yellow school bus for their move. “We paid $250,” Bill Banks said.
The pastor and his wife then had a yard sale. What remained was boxed and placed in the bus.
“We got rid of a lot of stuff,” Karen Banks said. “But, we kept a 1940s desk we both like.”
Once the unconventional moving van was loaded, the two set off on a 1,900-mile trek from Oregon to Clovis. Bill Banks led the way in a tiny Toyota pick-up that pulled a small fifth-wheel.
“It was a trip,” Karen Banks said. “We took the long way and the crummiest roads.”
Bill Banks said the trip took a week because of mechanical problems, bad weather and his wife’s health.
The little, yellow school bus now sits within a locked chain link fence at Central Christian Church still loaded with the Banks’ household items.
“Once we get it unloaded and fixed,” Bill Banks said, “we plan to donate it to the church.”