Thankful on Sunday (SE): Patrick Hunter
A little over five years ago now I started looking for a new church (long story, not worth telling). The pastor of the church I had been attending recommended Beacon Baptist to me as the pastor there (Dave Richards) was a calvinist. I had visited Beacon in the distant past (about 7 years earlier) and the pastor at that time had the end time charts out. Not my cup of tea. Also, Beacon is Southern Baptist (SBC) and base on my experience with the SBC in Dallas I really did not intend on joining another SBC church. But I decided to check it out anyway.
Long story short, I joined, and had been part of the leadership team at Beacon for some time when Pastor Dave resigned to pastor another church. This led to me being part of the Pastoral Search Team that recommended that the church call Patrick Hunter as the next pastor of Beacon Baptist in the spring of 2004.
Now, I'm the senior member of the leadership team. There has been a lot of change in leadership, not all of it for bad reasons and none specifically related to Patrick. A retirement with a move out of the area and a call to serve at another church are among the reasons leaders more experienced than I have left.
And today Pastor Hunter turned in his resignation as he has accepted the call to a church in Texas. This is a good move for him, and, I think, the kingdom. Beacon is a small (60-70), more or less rural church while he'll be moving to a larger church that will make better use of his gifts (and will not joke about his "Dr." - pronounced "der" - words).
So the next couple of weeks will be busy with transition items. Deciding what we will do in the near term to fill the pulpit. Making sure that all the other items he normally handled will get covered. Any number of things we haven't thought of yet. After we get through that and the holidays the work of finding a replacement. I don't know how directly I'll be involved in any of these tasks except some responsibilities that clearly fall under my leadership areas (ministry funding, etc.) that I'll have to pick-up immediately. But I expect my blogging time will be limited.
Words of Thanksgiving
Patrick is the first to admit we have not always seen eye to eye on matters of faith and practice. But this has not stopped us from developing a deeper friendship than I ever developed with Pastor Dave even though Dave and I were much closer theologically.
This is due in part to some similar life experiences and interests. Patrick was single for a fair portion of his adult life and I remain so. Patrick has an interest in science fiction, Star Trek in particular (though he's more of Next Generation kinda guy and I'm more original Trek). We both have a familiarity with the Metroplex (Dallas/Ft. Worth), he having grown up there and I having worked there for several years.
But for me, the big reason I can overlook (okay, tolerate . . . . . okay, okay, the reason I don't put him in irons or burn him at the stake over) the theological differences (the differences are not over the essentials of the faith) is that his Christianity is real and vital. In the short time he has been at Beacon, we have twice sent a missionary team to Mexico for a week. They worked with SBC missionaries there to prayer walk communities, strengthen and teach the local believers, and help the missionaries in whatever way possible. We have also twice sent disaster relief teams to Mississippi to help the clean-up effort there; we've hosted a disaster relief effort to help clean up after a tornado hit in the northern part of our county; and we just had another couple of members return from helping disaster relief efforts in Buffalo. Patrick not only helped manage these, he went on the first Mexico trip and both Mississippi trips. Being a "Dr." has not kept him from getting his hands dirty. He does not tend to wear his emotions on his sleeves, but his actions speak volumes about his concern for others.
It is definitely a sad day personally and for Beacon as a local body, but I rejoice in Jesus and am thankful to God for Patrick and how he has been used at Beacon to further the kingdom. He has been faithful over a little these past couple of years, and now, I believe, God is granting him stewardship over more. My prayers will go with Patrick as he serves in this new area, with the hope that his stewardship over these additional resources will mean further extending the reach outward of the kingdom.
God bless you brother.
PS: This was written yesterday and saved as draft. Today was indeed a sad day for our congregation. But God is still on His throne; our times and circumstances are still in His hands. Soli Deo Gloria.