As I closed our service Sunday (April 7), I shared these words with our congregation. If you missed this important time, I certainly want you to know what I shared.
Linett and I have been forced in recent weeks to look ahead, and we have come to a necessary time to tell you about that. It’s the reason that I wanted to have one combined service today. It was important to me for all of us to be together so that I could talk to you about what we sense God is leading us to do.
I likely will be transitioning in ministry. Our church is part of the Louisiana Baptist Convention—approximately 1600 Southern Baptist Churches in Louisiana. The full-time employee that leads this cooperative convention of churches is called the Executive Director. Currently, the Executive Director is Dr. David Hankins. He has preached here for us on a number of occasions. Last November, Dr. Hankins announced his intention to retire. A search committee has been actively at work since that announcement. At noon today, the Executive Director Search Committee will begin a process of announcing that they have selected me to be their nominee to the full Board of Directors, known as the Executive Board, to be the next Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. That confirmation vote will not occur until Tuesday, May 7, but since my name will begin to be announced today, I wanted you to hear this from me. If this call is confirmed by the whole Executive Board, I do intend to accept their call.
I realize that this will be a difficult month for all of us to have to wait for the final outcome, but no other option presented itself.
So what happens if they call me? This is a position that is full-time and therefore would require my resignation as pastor of First Baptist Church. I would give a formal announcement of that resignation in writing on May 7. In order to not prolong the length of departure and since I am giving you this notice today, in consultation with our Personnel Committee Chairman, my last Sunday as your pastor would be May 19. Since I assume nothing, other than seeking to be obedient to God in every step, if the full Board would not confirm my selection, I would continue to be your pastor with great joy and belief that our best days are yet ahead.
I know this announcement likely comes as quite a shock to all of you. This has been equally a shock to Linett and me. We came here fourteen years ago believing we would be here for forty years. We love you. We love Lafayette. We love First Baptist Church. The thought of leaving so many friends, a staff that has worked hard with us, our families, and a ministry that we love doesn’t make any human sense to us. However, we have sought the will of God in this matter in the same manner that we have taught you, and the evidence of His leading us is undeniable. In fact, I have reached the point that I believe I would be acting in disobedience if I did not say “yes.”
None of this means that we do not hurt to leave. None of this means that we are unhappy here. We simply mean to say that we are following God as we sense He is leading at this point in our lives. And, our faithful God will lead you as well.
There are many more things I want to say to you, and I will in the days ahead. I want to lead us in what might be my final weeks as your pastor to exalt Jesus during this Easter Season. I want to be a part in giving effective leadership for a smooth transition.
But today, I want to close by saying, in all of this, we must all Look Up!
As I have quoted many times to you, “Hallelujah, the Lord God, the Almighty, reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)