WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita’s most outspoken evangelical leader, the Rev. Joe Wright of Central Christian Church, has announced his retirement effective July 1st. Wright has been a preacher for some 35 years.
When he was called to lead Central Christian Church in 1987 by a struggling group of 600 believers, no one suspected Wright’s unwavering stance on moral issues and unashamed proclamation of the Bible would earn him the respect of the national evangelical community; a place at the table with James Dobson, Sean Hannity, and Don Wildmon; or the title of “Pastor” to some 3,000+ church-goers every weekend.
Four short years into Wright’s pastorate at Central, Operation Rescue came to town. Soon thousands of Wichita locals poured into the streets to stand for the lives of unborn boys and girls. Wright’s leadership during the “Summer of Mercy,” speaking at pro-life rallies and praying at the “abortion mills” (as he called them) encouraged rescuers. Wright met with over 75 members of the clergy to pray and fast three days for revival and the end to abortion. Before 35,000 people on August 25, 1991, Wright dubbed himself a “repentant pastor,” apologizing for not standing sooner against the murder of children.
Through the years, Wright has continued to unflinchingly defend the lives of preborn children — and more recently, the foundational family. Last year, it was his example that inspired and motivated hundreds of clergy state-wide to speak up and stand strong and vote for God-ordained marriage. Without his relentless efforts on behalf of unions between one man and one woman, the Kansas marriage amendment of 2005 may very well have failed.
Pastor Wright’s most hailed “claim to fame” is the prayer he gave before the Kansas Senate on January 23, 1996, sparking more than 18,000 letters to his church, three mentions on Paul Harvey’s newscast, and hundreds of email chain letters to this day.
Wright, together with Pastor Terry Fox of Immanuel Baptist, will continue to host “Answering the Call” a issues-based call-in talk show Sunday evenings 7-9 Central Time on 1330 KNSS and Sirius radio. The team started the weekly show in December 2004.
“I have long admired Pastor Joe’s tenacious loyalty to the Lord. God used this servant to accomplish much on behalf of the unborn and the family. He faithfully believed the Bible, fervently preached the gospel, and fearlessly declared the truth. I expectantly await what Jesus will do in and through Joe Wright in the future!” –Troy Newman, President, Operation Rescue