For home congregation, Robertson family’s celebrity a blessing and a challenge.
First Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press
Honorable mention (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
WEST MONROE, La. — Gasps of excitement wash over a crowded classroom at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ as Phil Robertson arrives for Sunday school.
Seventy pairs of stargazing eyes follow the bearded, camouflage-clad Duck Commander as he shakes hands with fans, thanking a couple from Canada for sending their ducks down south.
The reality television star carries a well-worn Bible, the thick binding held together with duct tape, as he takes his seat facing the audience.
“Y’all looking at me saying, ‘That’s about the raggedyest-looking Bible school teacher I’ve ever seen in my life,’” Robertson tells the class, a mix of yuppies in suits and shiny shoes and rednecks in faded jeans and mud-caked boots.
“God does not look at outward appearances, the clothes on your back,” the 67-year-old church elder adds as he opens his Bible to John 3:16 and begins sharing the Gospel.
“Duck Dynasty” — which set a reality TV record with nearly 12 million viewers of one episode last year — has made celebrities out of Robertson, his wife Kay, their four sons, their daughters-in-law, their grandchildren and even Phil’s quirky brother, “Uncle Si.”
All the Robertsons are longtime, active members of the White’s Ferry Road church, which meets just a few miles from the Duck Commander/Buck Commander warehouse in this northeast Louisiana town of 13,000.
Related column: What will Phil say at the Tulsa Workshop?
This story appears in the April 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.