As I jot down these lines, there is an Allied moving truck unloading boxes and furniture for the newest addition to our ministry team, Rev. John Rice and his wife Sara, dog Presley, and a three-legged cat whose name escapes me. (What are the odds that your senior and associate pastor would both have a three-legged Maine Coon? A sign?)
I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I feel to have John and Sara ready to call St. Pete and its First Baptist Church home. As you may have heard, Rev. Rice is a graduate of Southern Seminary, which has a special place in my heart and history back in the day. He has served churches well from Florida to D.C. to Kentucky and back to Florida again. He is deeply respected in ministry circles and has a proven track record empowering churches and their staffs to maximize their ministry potential. That’s a good thing because that is what we are asking him to help do here.
Sunday will be their first worship service with us and by Monday morning he will have hit the ground running. Please hear your pastor say this; you could not have gone into a laboratory and created a person whose gifts, ministry philosophy, and personality would be more what we need. Like Chris, Sara, and Aimee, he is exceedingly gifted, well prepared, and motivated to see a church rise up to its God-given potential. He is a friend to those he works for and with. And I have no doubt we will come to love the Rice’s and readily see the value of his locking arms with us in this pivotal time in our history.
On Sunday, July 1st we will officially welcome them with a reception in the narthex after the service. Drinks and snacks will be provided and fellowship with them and each other will be enjoyed. We ask you to do as you have done for Sara, Aimee, and me, load them up with gift cards from your favorite St. Pete places. It’s a heartfelt way to say thank you for coming. And as well as giving them a great gift during their transition, you will introduce them to the very best of what this great city offers.
For the foreseeable future, our pastoral leadership team is now complete. We have spent two years learning, loving, and laying a firm foundation together. Now it is time to rise to the challenge of aggressively strengthening and growing this wonderfully unique and significant church. Join me in welcoming John Rice as a major player in that construction effort. And let’s all get ready to work together. Great days are coming! Indeed they are. And Sunday will definitely be one of them. See you then.