Another David & Jonathan

Around the globe each Sunday there are churches who transfer pastoral leadership from one man to another. This occurs for a myriad of reasons, including death, geographical relocation, and retirement. One such congregation is the First Baptist Church of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Earlier last Sunday morning, my best friend of more than 40 years—Pastor Dave Brown—passed the baton of pastoral leadership to John Kearns. Dave had piloted successfully their ship for more than 26 years.

It was my privilege to speak for 6-8 minutes and sing prior to Dave’s final message as lead pastor. His last message was his closing sermon for a series encouraging the congregation toward their future. The talk that I heard guarantees a solid foundation on which future ministries can be built.

Over a quarter-century ago, the FBC congregation prayerfully made a decision that changed the courses of many people’s lives, when they enlisted the services of Dave Brown, calling him to relocate from the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania to East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

While the church body settled into their homes as usual after school & work, a much younger couple packed up all they owned, uprooted themselves & their four young children, moved onto Parker Street, & chose the people of that church & community as their new friends.

I know the congregation laughed, wept, & worked together for 26 years. There were defeats, disappointments, distresses, & discouragements—as is the reality of life. There were also accomplishments, growth, & victories—all the result of their perseverance.

As of yesterday, that community of believers wrote the closing actions & attitudes of yet another chapter in the rich history of First Baptist Church of East Longmeadow. They are penning to some extent the closing words of this chapter of the lives of Beverly & David Brown as well.

With this milestone in the life of my friend Dave Brown, I realized something. While that church’s relationship with Pastor Brown began 26 years ago, our friendship that began almost half a century ago was a modern-day version of David & Jonathan.

When I spoke to the congregation in East Longmeadow, I wanted to leave three basic thoughts with them on the occasion.

First, to them as a congregation—I thanked them for loving & for caring well for my best friends & their extended family. I asked them to spend some time reflecting on the investments that Pastor Brown had made in their lives, and to then thank God & thank the Brown’s.

Secondly, I wanted to address the Brown family. I am thankful for the sacrifices that each family member made so their husband, dad, or Papa could give so much of himself to the scriptures & to the sheep of that pasture. I cautioned them to never resent that, but rather be thankful that Dave Brown’s heart has been big enough for God, for them as a family, AND for all who called First Baptist their church home.

Finally, the best thing that I could say to Dave Brown—thank you for being my friend who has stuck closer than a brother, sharing common values & vision, & in a way few men ever grasp—except Jonathan & David. We truly have shouted together in victory. We have wept together in heartaches.

Apparently, I didn’t realize that we were supposed to retire together! {grin}

BTW, do you pray? If so, would you pray for my friends Bev and Dave Brown as they transition from his senior pastorate to whatever God has next for them? Thanks!

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