Once a Pastor Always a Pastor?

I have just returned from a spiritually uplifting weekend in Warrensburg, NY, a town of 3,331, nestled in the scenic Adirondack Mountains on the eastern edge of New York State.

The uplift came from preaching four times to a growing Free Methodist congregation that exudes strength, though only 13 years ago it was on the verge of extinction. The story centers in the vision of a pastor who answered the call.

In 1997 the church was about to be closed. A concerned member phoned a retired conference superintendent living forty miles away, and appealed for help. The Leonards, Richard and Ruth, answered the call and Rev. Leonard was appointed by the conference. He had previously served 27 years as a conference superintendent, and been in retirement for two years. Nevertheless, the Leonards began driving the 80-mile round trip once and twice a week, giving pastoral care.

Eight people turned up for the first public service

Yet in 13 years the church has come back from a near-death experience. The majority of the growing membership is there through conversion, and there have been as many as 140 in church on special occasions.

Also, Pastor Leonard has led the congregation through a series of projects that have made the church’s building and yard attractive inside and out. The climax of these projects to date has been the erecting of a beautiful parsonage one mile from the church.

The weekend wonderfully refreshed my conviction that “once a pastor always a pastor.” When the church ordains a person, that ordination is more than a mere assignment to a temporary job. It is a “setting apart” — intended to be a lifetime calling to a shepherding ministry. Therein lies its challenge and fulfillment.

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7 thoughts on “Once a Pastor Always a Pastor?

  1. This story is such an encouragement, just as you are, to a retired pastor such as I – once a pastor, always a pastor. I still long at this stage of my life to be involved in an area-wide spiritual awakening.

  2. Thank you, Pastor Bastian — I well recall my ordination in 1987 and that sense of call to ministry which has never left me. By His grace, I intend to follow Him in that call. I appreciate this call to remembrance.

  3. Amen again, Don! I found it so last summer serving as interim at our East Wenatchee FMC. I told people that I had almosts forgotten how much pure satisfying enjoyment and blessing it was to be a pastor again…even celebrating my 80th Birthday while there. I told the Conference Superintendent I was ready for another challenge if he had one for me. It still is hard be believe that I received my first pastoral appointment 58 years ago.
    Bob McDowell

  4. We are so glad and blessed that you answered your call. We are so blessed to call you Bishop, Pastor and Friend at Light and Life Park. Look forward to your weekly teaching. We need you.

  5. So encouraging, Pastor Bastian. God has so wonderfully given me great opportunties to Pastor even in Retirement at this beautiful Senior’s Complex, Citrus Gardens. in Mesa, Arizona. Also remember those days when you came up to O’Connor, Ontario and encouraged that congregation and today it is flurishing with a Young new pastor that grew up in the church during our ministtry there for 18 years.

    Pastor Fred and Pat Hubert

  6. Thank you for the great story about the church at Warrensburg. I am so thankful for your ministry, and for Dick Leonard’s ministry. Dick Leonard was still a Superintendent when I took on the same role in my Conference. I turned to him more than once for advice. You both inspire me and make me thankful to be a pastor. I, too, am retired, but still in the ministry. It has been such a great life! Bob Rogers

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