Pastor’s Paragraph—September 13, 2018

Dear Calvary Baptist Church Family,

Just over 27 years ago on July 21, 1991, I was called to be your pastor. Little did I know at that time as a then 38 year old minister that God would call me to remain as your pastor until my retirement.

I am writing to share with you that I will retire from the pastorate at the end of February, 2019. My final Sunday as your pastor will be February 24, 2019.

It is with mixed emotions that I make this announcement: sad to say good-bye to a church that I dearly love; grateful for the gracious God-given opportunity that I have had to be the pastor of such an amazingly gifted and Christ-centered congregation; anxious about the prospect of being retired (will I really be 66 years old this coming February?); and yet excited about what God has in store for me during my retirement years.

While I do not know my exact retirement plans, I do hope to do some preaching, some teaching, some writing, a bit more golfing, and to spend quite a bit more time with my family – my wife, my children, my children’s spouses, and my grandchildren (I have told you that I am a grandfather, haven’t I?).

I am announcing the date of my retirement now in the hope of giving our church family ample time to begin making preparations for the upcoming interim period and for the search process through which God will provide a new pastor for our church. At this coming Sunday’s (September 16th) quarterly business meeting, the church Personnel Committee will be making some recommendations/suggestions regarding possible steps that our congregation can begin to take now in order to best utilize the transitional period that is before us.

I pray that we will dedicate the closing six months of our time together to be the best congregation on mission for the Lord Jesus Christ that we have the potential to be. So what can each of us do between now and the end of next February? Let me make these suggestions: 1) Be faithful in worship and Sunday School attendance; 2) Give generously of your time, talents, and resources; 3) Pray for our church daily; and 4) ask God to use your life in His service during this transitional time.

Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor. Ministering to and with you these past 27 years has been the highlight of my ministerial career. Thank you for praying for me (especially during those “rough patches” in 2008 when I had open heart surgery and in 2009 when I was hospitalized for clinical depression). Thank you for loving my wife and my family. And thank you for being the church that you are – a “Christ-centered caring church family in the center of our community” committed to loving the Lord our God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

As I announce my retirement, I want to acknowledge how much I value the ministers on our church staff. More than fellow ministers, they are my friends who in so many ways are like family. How fortunate I have been not only to minister with them but to be ministered to by them! How blessed Calvary Baptist Church is to have such talented and dedicated church staff ministers!

Before closing this letter, I want to express my special appreciation for my wife. Deborah has been and continues to be an incredibly gifted reading specialist and literacy coach, a fabulous mother and grandmother, an always well prepared Sunday School teacher, a faithful sanctuary choir member, and an “always there” ministry partner. God blesses me, encourages me, and inspires me through her. A better wife and ministry partner I could not have! Thanks, Deb!

And now – in the words of Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church will abound in hope.”

Your blessed and grateful pastor,

Robert G. Baker

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