That is the way William “Bill” Hild describes the impact Carson-Newman has had on his life.

Carson-Newman was not on his radar in high school. He was from Florida and a Christian school in the mountains of East Tennessee was not at the top of his list. In fact, it was not even on his list. He did not even know where it was.

But our plans are not always God’s plans and to East Tennessee Bill did head. Landing at McGhee Tyson Airport, Bill collected his bags and moved to the curb outside the terminal, with absolutely no idea where Jefferson City was or how he was going to get there.

“There was a limousine parked out front and I must have looked as lost as I felt because a guy there asked me where I was going,” Hild said. “I told him I was trying to get to Jefferson City, to Carson-Newman, but had no idea where it was or how I was going to get there.” Bill surely did not have enough money for a cab.

The owner of the limo has his driver bring Bill to Mossy Creek. He was blown away by the gesture. Humbled and maybe even a little overwhelmed, to this day, Hild is not sure who provided his transportation to the school – other than it was a God thing.

Four years later, in 1978, Hild earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion. He answered the call to ministry, spending 45 years serving at just three churches before retiring in 2020. Twenty-four of those years were spent serving as senior pastor for First Baptist Church of Sarasota, Florida. He is now pastor emeritus of the church. He is married to Beverly.

Not content with merely residing in Sarasota, Hild is an active member within his community. He co-founded the Sarasota Ministerial Association in 2001 and was the leader and emcee at the Fifteenth Anniversary of 911 at Sarasota National Cemetery. Hild also hosted five of the annual Thanksgiving Wednesday luncheons for those experiencing homelessness. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Hild led his church in recovery and support efforts, with his congregation donating more than $140,000 to help storm victims while delivering food and personal hygiene kits to those in the gulf coast regions. Not limited to boundaries, Hild’s compassion for others led him to ministry opportunities in more than 60 countries.

Because of his heart for service, Sarasota Ministerial Foundation presented him with the 2019 “Good and Faithful Servant Award.

Despite his career taking him around the world, geography was never a barrier with Hild staying connected to alma mater. He served as a member of Carson-Newman’s Board of Trustees. In 2021 he was awarded the Carson-Newman Triumph Award in Religion by the University. 

His passion for archeology has taken him on multiple archeological digs. It is through these experiences of helping uncover secrets of the past that allows Hild to share his passion with others. This was evidenced in 2016 when he established The William Hild Collection of Biblical Antiquities as part of the Lynn and Lyndsey Denton Gallery at Carson-Newman.

Now serving as adjunct professor in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies, Hild is helping launch the University’s new archeology minor. In doing so, this past summer he led a group of five Carson-Newman students on an initial groundbreaking excavation in the Judean Desert of Herod the Great’s desert fortress. The experience, which made international headlines, was the result of an effort by Carson-Newman University, in support of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archeology and in collaboration with the American Veterans Archeological Recovery (AVAR).

Last fall, October 2023, Bill was presented with the University’s Founders’ Medallion. His presentation to the gathering was powerful enough to us to decide to include it here.

We hope you appreciate the testimony and experience of transformation that Bill went through himself and tells of others who experienced the same.

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