Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Visiting Old Friends

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at Memorial Baptist Church near Nelson, Missouri. The open country congregation is without a pastor, and I had shared with their Director of Missions that I would be happy to supply for them sometime. Memorial Baptist Church called me as their pastor a little over 35 years ago while I was a single college student. I served the church for a little over five years. During that time I married, finished college and seminary, and Bettie Jo and I had our first child. The church ordained me to the Gospel Ministry. The church family provided a setting for me to apply what I was learning as I prepared for ministry. In a sense, they "raised me" as they have many "preacher boys." Most of all they loved and accepted me. Obviously, many of the people who were there when I served as their pastor are gone, and now there are new faces and new leaders. A few of the old-timers (like me) were still there. It was good to renew friendships, and it was good to remember how God used the congregation to help shape my life and ministry. I will always be grateful to the family of God known as Memorial Baptist Church.

After the worship service Bettie Jo and I drove to Eldon, Missouri, to attend a reception for Dr. Randall Bunch who retired this past Sunday as Pastor of the First Baptist Church. Randall has had a long and very productive ministry in a variety of ministry settings, but more than half of his ministry has been at First Baptist Church in Eldon. I have had the opportunity to preach revivials at First Baptist Church twice over the years. The congregation is truly a gracious and committed Christian family. They are an easy congregation and setting to preach. I believe they reflect the spirit and character of their pastor. Randall is gracious, thoughtful, and very insightful pastor and leader. He is a man of character and conviction. He genuinely has a pastor's heart. Dozen's of his church members shared stories with Bettie Jo and me about how he has cared for and ministered to them and their family. It was great to share in the celebration of his retirement.

The Baptist General Convention of Missouri recently elected Randall as our convention president. It will be a privilege to have his leadership this year, and I look forward to working with him as we explore the future G0d has planned for our ministry.

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