Pastor Larry Stockstill was called into the ministry at the age of 16 and immediately responded to that call. After graduating in 1971 from Baker High School in Baker, Louisiana, he enrolled in Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, graduating in 1975 with a degree in theological and historical studies. Upon graduation, Stockstill continued at ORU as associate chaplain until 1976. At that time he and his wife, Melanie, moved to West Africa to serve as missionaries in Nigeria and Ghana. In 1978 they returned to Louisiana, where Stockstill joined the pastoral staff of Bethany World Prayer Center, the church his father, Roy, had founded in 1963.
In August 1983, Roy Stockstill retired as senior pastor of Bethany, and the mantle of leadership passed to his son, Larry. Both Stockstills emphasized simplicity, sincerity, and sacrifice as the guiding principles for the church, and Larry built upon the foundation laid by his father in the early years of Bethany. By 1985, two years after Larry assumed leadership, the church had increased from 2,000 members to 5,500 members, thus necessitating the need for a larger sanctuary. The current structure on Plank Road in Baker resulted, capable of seating 6,000 people.
During the ensuing years, Bethany continued to grow and prosper. In 1999 another campus was added to Bethany when Plaquemine Christian Assembly donated its facility to Bethany. Known as Bethany West, the congregation is thriving under the new leadership. In 2001 yet another branch of Bethany was opened, this time in the south part of Baton Rouge. Called Bethany South, this congregation grew rapidly, and plans are already being formulated to construct a larger auditorium facility to seat approximately 7,800 people.
When Bethany was founded in 1963, giving to world missions was established as a cornerstone mark of the church, with the first check ever being written designated for missions. Each year has seen an increase in missions giving, both local and foreign, with several million dollars now being given annually. Currently Bethany supports over 50 ministries and two local nonprofit organizations. Since 2001 Bethany has planted churches around the world through the Global 12 Project, an international church-planting venture, and is seeing great fruit from this effort.
Another trademark of Bethany is its emphasis on small group involvement for its members. In this capacity, members meet weekly in small groups in homes throughout the city and surrounding area. Small group ministry has become an integral part of Bethany’s core values.
In addition to his role of senior pastor, Stockstill is president of Heartbeat of Louisiana, a coalition of pro-life ministers. He also serves on the board of directors for Church Growth International in Seoul, Korea. Stockstill also hosts a local television program called Lifeline with Larry Stockstill. In addition, from 1998 to 2004, Stockstill led a weekly Bible study at the Governor’s Mansion for Governor Mike Foster of Louisiana and his staff.
Stockstill and his wife, Melanie, have six children and live in Baker.