Life’s Seismic Shifts: A Memorial Weekend I Will Remember

There are multiple times in life when we experience major changes. Birth of children, death of loved ones, graduations, and marriage are a few biggies that come to mind. Career or vocational changes also belong somewhere on that list. In 2000, I experienced this in a big way as I stepped away from operations at Tom Brooks Exxon and, after a brief stint as a landman, surrendered to God’s call to ministry.

Yesterday, my church, Indian Springs Baptist, officially voted me in to become the campus pastor of our new Glenwood campus. After 18 years of ministry to children and students (11 full-time and 7 as a part-time volunteer), I will be moving into a new ministerial role. You could say that this qualifies as another seismic shift for the list. Anyone reading this outside of my church and family may be thinking – like Ricky Ricardo used to say – “You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!”  I would be delighted to take a few moments and brag on what God has been up to.

In 1955, a thriving Glenwood Baptist Church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, with then Pastor Freeman Wright and a host of faithful servants, was led to plant a church on the outskirts of Kingsport in the Indian Springs community . The years allowed both congregations to touch thousands of lives. In recent years, however, for reasons too numerous and complex to spell out in this post, Glenwood’s membership numbers began to wane. Over the past couple of years, the faithful leadership of Glenwood sought the Lord for guidance and a path forward. In the fall of 2010, that path led back to the church she had planted 55 years earlier.

Discussions and prayer led both churches to arrive at the proposal which would dissolve Glenwood Baptist and assimilate the membership into Indian Springs Baptist with ISBC becoming one church with two Kingsport campuses – the original Hill Road campus and the Glenwood campus at 2601 East Center Street.  I am humbled when I think of the selfless sacrifice the wonderful members of Glenwood had to make so as to insure the continued ministry outreach to this community and beyond from their tradition-rich location in central Kingsport which has seen ministry ongoing since 1887. I am also proud to be a part of a body of believers less interested in building their own earthly kingdom and keenly interested in stepping out in faith for the Kingdom of God. In a day and age when the notable church news usually consists of moral failure and/or church splits, this is a story worth sharing.

When this proposal began to take shape, God began to move my heart. There we were, my family and I, blissfully content with where we were and unction of the Holy Spirit starts in on us. I love being a student minister, discipling and developing the church one life at a time. My wife and child love the programs in which they are involved and are happy with the friends they have made.  But I would find myself driving through Highland thinking about all the possibilities and what it would take to reach the unreached.  After a few prayer drives, it began to make sense to me that God would bring this Kingsport kid back into town – to the church where his parents were once members, a mile from the house in which he was born and three blocks away from his beloved high school. It was a call that I could not get away from regardless of how uncomfortable it might be. It seemed to also make sense to the leadership and congregation of ISBC. The rest, as they say, is history.

Next weekend, Sunday, June 5, all of ISBC will converge on Glenwood campus for one, combined service at 10am. Our senior pastor, Dr. Roc Collins, will be preaching as we ALL embark on God’s great new adventure. Though my pastorate begins immediately and I will be preaching at Glenwood in the weeks to come, we will be starting some upgrades and revitalization of the Glenwood campus in short order and we will be shooting for an August date (subject to change) to “officially” launch two services – one traditional and one contemporary. Please stay tuned for more news updates.

In the meantime, if you are a Kingsport resident looking for a church home or if you would like to know more about the God I serve and the adventuresome life to which He calls us, I would love to chat with you.

Yes. Memorial Day will forever have a deeper meaning for us.

Grace and Peace!