Bolick never meant to be a bishop, yet received the call
Bishop Leonard Homer Bolick did not originally want to be a pastor. Even though he went to seminary and studied ministry, he continued to tell God it was not going to work out.
“I never wanted to work in a church,” Bolick said. “It was something that I really struggled against. That was the last thing I wanted to do. But when I was getting ready to graduate from Appalachian [State University], there was just a sense of a call to serve in the church. I didn’t want to do it, but I thought I’ll go to seminary because I felt this overwhelming call to go into ministry. I couldn’t ignore that.”
Bolick told God that if he flunked a class or did not make good grades, at least he tried before moving onto a different career. But Bolick graduated with no problems.
“When I graduated from seminary, I thought, well, if no one can calls me to be their pastor, I can then say to God, well I tried but no one wanted me to be their pastor so I can do something else,” Bolick said.
He did receive a call, however, and his career took off from there.
Bolick grew up in the northern part of Caldwell County near Blowing Rock. His great-grandfather, Marcus Bolick, purchased land in Caldwell and Watauga counties at $2 an acre, and the land remains in the family.
“I still have property in Caldwell County,” said Bolick, who lives in Salisbury. “In fact, I’m going to retire in Caldwell County.”
Bolick attended Happy Valley School, which housed grades 1-12. His graduating class of 1964 had a total of 31 students. Having such a small class, Bolick found it difficult to adjust when he continued his education at Appalachian State University.
“I knew everyone in the (Happy Valley) community,” Bolick said. “I was related to everyone in the community. It was really strange to walk down the street (in Boone) and not know people, or walk down the street and not speak to everyone you meet. It was a totally new experience. It’s just a different culture.”
After graduating from Appalachian and receiving his master’s of divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., Bolick got a call from a church in Concord. He abandoned any thoughts of failing at ministry and of his alternative career choice, working in sales.
Bolick said that there are careers like being a police officer, lawyer, carpenter and pastor that people feel called to do. He described being able to love one’s job as “a gift” to both the person and “the people that they serve.” His son, Joseph, is a pastor in Charleston, S.C., and his daughter, Sarah, is currently studying at the University of Chicago and Lutheran Theological Seminary.
When he is not at work, Bolick enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time in North Carolina’s mountains. He and his wife, Rita, enjoy collecting antiques.