First Baptist Church celebrates 25 years with Pastor Barmer

Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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For 25 years, Dr. Gregory Barmer has been a part of the ministry at First Baptist Church of Washington through both music and worship.

Barmer is a graduate of East Carolina University, The Southern Theological Seminary and the Institute of Worship Studies, and spent five years in Taylorsville, in the outskirts of Hickory, where he began his ministering. In May 1995, Barmer and his wife Lisa, along with their two children, Sarah and Andrew, moved to Washington to be a part of First Baptist Church.

Though he started out as the Minister of Music at the church, where he served for 22 years, Barmer was commissioned and installed as the pastor of the church on Feb. 18, 2018. He is also an active pianist and choral conductor in the community.

“Washington is such a fine place I think — the church, especially. When we arrived in Washington, it immediately felt like home. This is where we belong, with these people, and that’s proved to be true,” Barmer said. “This congregation has been such a nurturing, loving and accepting place for me and my family to allow us all to grow up, and they have loved me through it all. To have been with a single congregation for 25 years, to live with them, cry with them and celebrate. Practicing being faithful to Christ together has been encouraging and invigorating all along the way. These are people of faith that have seen me at my best and seen me at my worst, and they’ve loved me through it all.”

Joy Stallings, cirector of Children Outreach at First Baptist, wrote in the church’s newsletter about Barmer’s 25-year anniversary.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caught us all off guard, and Greg’s 25 years were almost overlooked. What has not been overlooked is Greg’s attention to what we as individuals and as a church are going through during this time. He respects the governmental authorities and God’s authority. He has guided the staff through this transition, and daily we are having conversations of what coming out of this pandemic will look like,” Stallings wrote. “No matter the trends of church music, Greg valued the importance of worship that was meaningful from the beginning to the end. A major lesson I learned from working with Greg is that worship is not about us. Worship is not about what we come to receive, but rather what we bring to the table. As pastor, his message remains clear — it’s not about us. We are a church led by our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we are called to go and serve.”

Barmer cherishes the many memories that have been made the last 25 years, especially seeing families grow closer to Christ.

“The long, permanent involvement with families — to see babies born, being there for the birth of child, seeing them grow up to the point that they’re about to have children themselves. Seeing some of my former youth children that are in full time ministry themselves, to be involved and minister to grandparents and grandchildren all at the same time, just being a part of all that in the presence of Christ within those relationships is invigorating,” Barmer said. “We’ve also been involved with Swaziland, Africa — a very small nation — for almost 25 years. This congregation plays a very significant role in the lives of all the Baptist churches in Swaziland. That’s one of those God-sized things that are over our head and beyond our imagination, that a small community like Washington can be handed that God-sized task. God continues to grow our faith, our eyes and our spirits to see and understand that we can take that leap of faith and join him.”