First Baptist Church seeks pastor, youth minister

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Replacing a pastor can be a challenge for a church. Finding a new youth minister at the same time can prove overwhelming for that church.

Washington’s First Baptist Church — which lost its pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jimmy Moore, and its youth minister, Bryan Lee, earlier this year — finds itself in that position.

After Moore’s death from cancer this summer, the church formed a committee to search for an interim pastor to serve the church as it looks for a new full-time pastor. This past spring, another committee began looking for a new youth minister. Tonight, the committee looking for an interim pastor is expected to update the congregation on its efforts, according to Lillian Jones, a committee member.

The Rev. Greg Barmer, the church’s music minister, said he and other staff members, including the Rev. Tammy Condrey and Joy Stallings, director of children’s ministry/outreach, are keeping the church’s ministries, programs and projects moving forward. Making that possible is a church family that’s providing support during the search process, Barmer said.

The congregation’s support helps lift the weight off the staff’s shoulders, he said, adding that staff members buoy one another. “The congregation itself — it’s a healthy congregation. They do well at understanding needs, seeing needs and stepping up to the plate … That really is a huge blessing in itself, especially right now to me and the staff,” Barmer said.

“It’s a great place to work. Truly, we’ve said along it’s a family there. It’s a family relationship. Everybody supports everybody else. There’s lots of laughter, pats on the back,” Barmer said.

“I feel the weight of the responsibilities,” Barmer said of helping with the search process. “We’re truly not worried about it. We’re always spurring one another on.”

During the search process, the staff has been praying daily, usually several times a day, Barmer said.

The committee searching for an interim pastor may have identified a candidate, Barmer noted. The interim pastor would bring stability to the pulpit, he said. “That’s really the primary area an interim pastor will serve — in the pulpit. The day-to-day duties will be covered,” Barmer said.

Committee member Jones does not see an interim pastor necessarily being a bridge connecting Moore’s legacy to the era of a new full-time pastor.

“I would think the interim pastor is someone who would take us through the transition period to the point where we are ready to call a full-time minister,” Jones said.

The two searches, though demanding on the staff and congregation, have a silver lining, Barmer believes.

“In the midst of the work and the business, it’s not a burden. There is joy. There is joy in the midst of the weightiness of the work to be done. The church is flourishing. That’s a point I feel strongly about and rejoice about privately in my own spirit. … There is joy and hope in the future, and we’re looking forward to that, as we also mourn Jimmy Moore,” Barmer said.

Barmer believes the congregation wants a pastor who will enhance and expand the church’s presence and influence in the community, one of the legacies left by Moore. “The church understands itself well, I think, and who it is. We have visions and goals, and those things we’re headed toward. We’ll be looking for someone who matches — a good marriage, a good partner to come in … You’ll know when it’s the right one,” Barmer said.

Because the church has a large, growing youth population, Barmer said, it wants to find the right person to lead the church’s vital youth ministry. The church might be closer to finding a new youth minister than finding a full-time pastor. A youth minister candidate is scheduled to visit the church and Washington for several days at the end of this month and the beginning of October. A reception for the candidate, who is from Kentucky, is slated for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 1.

Asked what the church offers a new pastor and a new youth minister, Barmer said, “It’s a very healthy place. It’s a healthy place to thrive and let your own giftedness flourish,” he said. “It’s as loving and supportive congregation as I’ve ever known. … So, for any minister, it’d be a great place to be — proven by the tenure of me and Jimmy Moore, 23 and 22 years.”


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike