Theirs is a sweet story. It began when she was in the seventh grade, and he was in the eighth grade at Fairview Junior High School in Camden. He said he thought she was the prettiest girl in school. They “claimed” each other after that and married a few years later in 1972. He was 19. She was 18. Their first home was a garage apartment in Mobile, Alabama, not far from his parents’ house. In the early days of their marriage, his call to ministry was confirmed. He’d sensed the call from childhood, but realized early in their marriage that God was directing his life to full-time ministry. She sensed the call, too.
The decision to pursue vocational ministry took them from Alabama to Batesville to work with his former pastor, Bob Parker, at First Baptist Church of Batesville. It was there that Dr. Rex Horne completed his undergraduate education. He had started his education at Ouachita following his high school graduation and then transferred to the University of South Alabama when his parents moved. He transferred again to Arkansas College (now Lyon) when he accepted the position at First Baptist Church of Batesville.
From Batesville, Dr. Horne and his wife, Becky, moved to Fort Worth so he could attend The SouthwesternBaptist Theological Seminary. Becky was his partner and helped support their household through her work in a local bank. He was the pastor of Meadow Gardens Chapel of First Baptist Church of Dallas. Later the Hornes moved to Shreveport, where Dr. Horne became pastor of Western Hills Baptist Church, and they welcomed their first child, Ashley. Almost three years later, their second child, Holly, was born. It was during his years in Shreveport that Dr. Horne pursued his doctoral degree through a program offered by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Hornes went on to minister in churches in Oklahoma and Texas and added two more children, Wendy and Truett, to their family. Most recently, Dr. Horne served for almost 16 years as pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock, one of the largest Southern Baptist congregations in Arkansas.
According to the Hornes, they have experienced quite a journey in ministry together. Along the way, they have been blessed with children and now grandchildren. They suffered the painful and unexpected loss of Dr. Horne’s father and the death of Becky’s mother after an accident. Becky pursued her lifelong career goal, becoming a registered nurse specializing in oncology treatment. She started her training after all of her children were in school.
Through the years, Dr. Horne added other areas of service to his résumé. For two consecutive terms, he served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). He authored three books and served as a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for a decade. He and Becky hosted a live weekly television program called Conversations on VTN. He has also served on the boards of several organizations, including Ouachita.
Dr. Horne assumed a new role when he officially accepted the position of president of Ouachita on June 1, 2006. In this role, he is a member of a small group—a group that has had only 14 members since Ouachita was founded in 1886. Dr. Horne said he will draw on the experiences of his life and work for the role of president of Ouachita. He said that he will also rely on some of the lessons he learned during the difficult times of his life.
“I know who I am,” said Dr. Horne. “I’ve been tested and tried and put through a crucible that few people go through. In the course of that, I’ve learned a lot about leading in good times and difficult times. I’ve learned about relating with people and dealing with criticism. I know what’s important to me, and I know what I believe. That has prepared me.”
As for his work at Ouachita and his vision for the direction the institution with take, Dr. Horne is focusing on students and the outcomes of their educational experiences. He is also conscious of the long-term impact that Ouachita can have on students.
“I often say that we know the difference between an education and indoctrination, and we’re here to educate,” he said. “We also know the difference between undergirding faith and undermining faith. We’re here to undergird. We can challenge and teach and stretch students in the best of ways. Through those students, we will impact churches, communities, corporations and families for generations.”
Dr. Horne said that he believes one way to impact students is to provide them the opportunity to interact with people he called “difference makers.”
“I’m really interested in bringing challenging and interesting people, some of whom may be well-known and other who are not so well-known, to campus. I want to expose our students to people who have made significant contributions to our society and to then challenge those students to invest themselves in making a difference,” he said.
But, his first priority in his role of president centers on students and enabling them to receive the highest quality educational experience in an environment that fosters spiritual development.
“At the end of the day, everything we do is about getting students here and affording them the best education in a Christ-centered community, to empower our professors to do the best job they possibly can, to encourage our staff in their responsibilities. There’s something very gratifying about that.”
As for his family, Dr. Horne said that Becky has enjoyed the opportunity to minister to and interact withstudents. She is leading a weekly girls’ Bible study group this semester. She will also be actively involved in entertaining groups and serving as a host for a number of campus events.
Dr. and Mrs. Horne both feel that their roles at Ouachita are an extension of their ministry—a ministry that has spanned more than three decades. It is a ministry born of a partnership that began with a glance in a hallway of a South Arkansas junior high school. The legacy of that partnership continues to be crafted. It has influenced the lives of thousands of people and has a direct impact on the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Ouachita Baptist University.