FBC Washington pastor retires

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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By First Baptist Church of Washington 

Dr. Gregory Barmer, pastor of First Baptist Church, Washington, has announced his retirement from full-time ministry after 35 years of service, 28 of those at First Baptist. Barmer informed the congregation of his decision in April, with Sunday, July 9, 2023 as his last day.

Barmer was called to First Baptist as Minister of Music in 1995. His tenure emphasized the spiritual quality of the music program supporting the message brought by then pastor, Dr. Jimmy Moore. Their God-ordained collaboration persisted for over 20 years. Barmer expanded the traditional Christmas program to a Christmas Festival that included all church choirs. He also invited music students and other talented musicians to provide wind, brass, and string instruments to accompany and complement those services. The Christmas Festivals came to be highly anticipated and appreciated by the community. Barmer was closely involved with the coordination of a spring choir workshop and concert by downtown Washington churches, hosting several at First Baptist.

In 2016, when Moore was diagnosed with terminal cancer and undergoing treatment, Barmer stepped in to assist with day-to-day church administration while maintaining his own responsibilities as Minister of Music, delivering the sermon at both Sunday morning services when Moore was physically unable to be in the pulpit on short notice. Prior to and during this difficult time, Barmer had begun to feel a distinct restlessness and redirection in his call.  Following Moore’s death, the invitation from the pastor search committee helped clarify his call to the pastoral ministry.  He began serving as pastor in February 2018.  The continuity in leadership provided a grieving congregation comfort and stability during a tender period of transition.

During the five years of Barmer’s service as pastor, First Baptist dealt with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, came through lockdown with a growing congregation, completed payment of a $2.6 million renovation, and celebrated its 200th anniversary.

In his retirement announcement, Barmer expressed that God has given him a sense of completion of the task he was called to, that of leading the congregation through the transition from grief to renewal. He stated, “God has so blessed me and my family through the wonderful congregation of First Baptist. Just as God intended for His church, they have been the Body of Christ for us time and time again. Lisa and I are so humbled and honored to be loved by these fine people and to have served alongside them for all these years.” 

While Barmer is retiring as a full-time pastor, ministry is not finished for him and his wife, Lisa. They will remain in Washington, having recently bought a house to restore in the Historic District. In addition to working on their house, they plan to spend time with their children and grandchildren as they wait for direction and further opportunities to minister and to serve God.