Dear Church,

One of the things that I love most about First Baptist Church is that we are truly an intergenerational community. When I look at our worship services on Sunday morning, we are filled with young, old, and everyone in between. In an era where most people are finding that their churches are shrinking and in decline, the “state of our union” is strong. For that fact, I am incredibly grateful. We take seriously the call to minister to all people, regardless of their age and station in life. With that commitment in mind, I want to share with you some exciting new changes that are happening in our staff structure.

Over the past four and half years, Melissa Willis has provided incredible leadership for our children’s ministry. We have made significant changes in the way we disciple our youngest members, and Melissa has led with positivity and excellence throughout each transition. Our church is a better community because she is a part of us. At the same time, Melissa has taken on increasing responsibility with our Senior Adult ministry. There are now countless members of our church that can speak to the tender and loving pastoral care that Melissa has provided to so many who have been homebound or in the hospital. This is a vital area of ministry in our church and the need for it will only grow as we see the new senior adult community being built next door to our campus. In the midst of doing this work with our “fifty-five and better” community, Melissa has sensed a growing passion for Senior Adult ministry that leads us to believe the time is right for Melissa to become our next Minister of Senior Adults and Mission.

Since we have made the decision to make these changes in Melissa’s role, we began to take a deeper look at how we need to move forward with our Children’s Ministry. While the most obvious decision would be to simply hire a new individual for the role, we took a more deliberate approach where we thought about the best way to use our resources and existing staff members. After months of prayer and deep consideration, we believe that the best course moving forward is to divided the Minister to Children position into two distinct roles. Martha Kate Hall, who is currently serving as the Director of the Weekday Education program, will become our new Minister to Preschool and Families. In part because of her existing relationships with the Weekday Education families, we believe that placing her in this new position will allow us to make a deeper connection with the eighty percent of Weekday Education families that currently do not attend FBC. Martha Kate will continue in her role as the Director of the Weekday Education program.

With these two exciting changes in place, the last remaining piece of the puzzle is to find our new Director of Children’s Ministry. This role will be responsible for Kindergarten through Fifth grade and we are beginning to look for candidates that will be a great fit on our team. I trust that you know there is no one in the church more passionate about finding the right person for this role than me, as my three daughters will be in this area of the church for the next eight years in some form or fashion! I am confident that over the next few months, the perfect candidate will emerge and our ministry will be stronger than it has ever been in the past.

Friends, I know that the information I have laid out in this edition of the Interpreter is a lot to take in! My fingers hurt from writing so much. But I also know that every decision we make is helping us to further live into our vision of “connecting people to Jesus Christ and this community of faith.” I hope you will make plans to join us at our Church in Conference, this Sunday night so you can hear a fuller discussion of these changes to our current staff model.

These are exciting times to be at the First Baptist Church. As always, I am proud to be your pastor.

Grace and Peace,