Getting to know Senior Pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church Ken Whitten with "10 questions"

TAMPA, Fla. - Are you ever curious about the real lives of politicians, celebrities, local newsmakers and athletes?

Each week, ABC Action News asks 10 questions of a Bay area leader, politician or even national celebrity.

We go beyond the questions that are news of the day. After all sometimes, we want know more about them. What's their favorite music? Biggest regret? And who do they look up to?

During this time of the year as we celebrate the holidays, we wanted you to get to know some of our religious leaders in our community. I reached out to all of you and received many suggestions, that we truly appreciate.

I could not feature everyone in these next few weeks, but I hope to profile all your suggestions throughout the New Year!

First, we hear from a pastor from one of the largest churches in the Bay Area, Pastor Ken Whitten from Idlewild Baptist Church.

It is a great story on how the church opened it's door. It all happened because of a survey. In 1933, a survey in the neighborhood found, there was a desire for a church.

So, a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. George Gibson organized a meeting in a garage on Idlewild and Lynn Avenues, soon that space became too small.

And, the church grew.

In 1989 Ken Whitten took over as Senior Pastor of Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz and now has led the church for more than 23 years.

He leads a congregation of over 10,000, and on any normal Sunday, attendance exceeds more than 7,000.

After seven years of planning in 2005, under the guidance of Whitten, the church moved into a new 143-acre campus in northwest Hillsborough County.

Pastor Whitten also led the church in establishing campuses in Central and South Tampa.

Church officials said recently, Idlewild added an Hispanic ministry at the main campus and a satellite campus in Odessa.

While Whitten has led his congregation at Idlewild for the past 23 years, he's just celebrated 31 years in ministry.

Pastor Whitten is also very active in his community. According to his website, Whitten served on the 2010 SBC Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and currently serves on the National Board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Board of Trustees of Guidestone, and as Board Chairman of the Florida Baptist Witness.

Those are just a few of his accomplishments and current affiliations.

Ken Whitten is married. He and his wife have 4 children and 8 grandchildren.

Read more......

1. What is your all-time favorite movie or song?

 I love Christian artists and of course there are many, with really no one in particular that I'd say is my favorite.  I love the Passion CDs, Chris Tomlin, the Gettys, Kristian Stanfill, and the artist whom I know personally, Charles Billingsley.

2. Do you have a Smartphone?  If  so, what is your favorite app?

Yes, I have a smartphone, but I must confess it is much smarter than me.  This may sound crazy, but my favorite app is Thermometer, because I can always tell what the temperature is outside.

3. Who do you count as your mentor(s)?

Over the years I have had several spiritual mentors, financial mentors, emotional mentors, and God has used each one to shape me and make me who I am today.  My spiritual daddy was Dr. Adrian Rogers, who now lives in Glory. My financial mentor is a man in our church family, Pieter Dearolf.

Emotionally speaking, I love reading books by Larry Crabb who sees counseling as discipleship and notes that we do not see things as they are, but we see things as we are.  

The faithful senior adults at Idlewild Church today are still my mentors because they not only teach me how to live, but how to die.

4. What was your very first job?

My very first job was bailing hay and pulling weeds in a bean field in Central Illinois where I grew up.  I also had a newspaper route with my brother which taught me responsibility, accountability, and loyalty.

5. What is your favorite place in Florida?

For family and fun, I don't think you can beat Disney World in Orlando.  I love the beaches from San Destin to the Florida Keys, but I must say of all my favorite places, my favorite is Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida.

6. What do you consider your greatest success?

I believe you define success as finding, following, and finishing the will of God for your life.  It has never been about a position, a possession, a title, or accomplishments.  I know with what the world calls success, no one ever got there by themselves.  That being said, Ginny and I look at our four children and our eight grandchildren, and we see they love each other, love their spouses, love their children, love their parents, and most of all, they love the Lord; and we'd say God has given us much favor and success.

On a ministry level, the people of Idlewild Church have sacrificed, worked, and loved to build a beautiful campus on Exciting Idlewild Boulevard.  It has been a great joy to lead them in this endeavor, and whether anyone would call that success or not, I'll let

the Lord be the Judge.

7.  Tell us something about you most people don't know?

I was the baby, #6, in my family, born C-section, and was not expected to live.  From the womb to the tomb, I am a product of God's grace.

8.  If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or dead, who would they be?

 Obviously, the Lord Jesus Christ.  But beyond Him, Winston Churchill, Robert E. Lee, and Jackie Robinson.

9.  What is in your fridge right now?

A lot of bottled water and assorted fruit and vegetables.  In the freezer, chicken and ice cream.  I believe in balance.

10.  If you could have a different career other than what you're doing now, what would it be?

There is nothing I love more than what I am currently called to do, but if there were something else, it probably would be counseling professional baseball players with an MLB organization.

Please keep sending me your suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!

If you would like to suggest someone for 10 questions you can e-mail me at or "like" me on Facebook. To do that just head to ... and find me under the favorites tab and click the "like" button.

Sarina Fazan
News Anchor/Multimedia Journalist

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