I guess I’ve told this story before, but My first sermon was in 1972, and was to be on a Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, at Glendale Baptist Church. Excited and nervous I decided I would go up into the pasture behind our house and do a practice run. I laid my outline on a stump and with Bible in hand I began to shout out my discourse, hammering home my message with gestures that included the flailing of arms and perhaps a kick to the rear end of the devil. Whilst I was engrossed in such theatrics… I failed to notice that my only audience member, our little brown chihuahua, had mischievously scooped up my notes and ran to the highest hill - I gave chase and sometime thereafter regained my little sermon. It was frazzled and so was I, as I made my way to the church… and then haltingly preached my first sermon… having learned a lesson: keep my eye on the audience! I don’t remember my text… but I do recall the theme: The Love of God. In some way – that has been a singular thread of every message I’ve tried to preach.
Sunday, October 28th after much prayer and thoughtful conversation with Jane, it was with a lump in my throat, but with a sense of peace as to the timing of God’s will on our life -- I read the following:
To: Starnes Cove Baptist Church Membership
From: Charlie Sams, Pastor
My Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This day, October 28th of 2018, I do now give notice of the pending date of my retirement from my duties as pastor of the Starnes Cove Baptist Church to be on December 31st, 2018. This I do with deepest appreciation, to you my loving and supportive brethren, for the opportunity to follow my calling to preach the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ among you since August 24th of 1986.
Christ Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and he faithfully leads His Church. It has been our privilege to have walked along side you, as under-shepherd, for the past thirty-two years of this journey. Please know that Jane and I, hold all of you and our fellowship dear to our hearts: to those who span all these years… those who have joined along the way, even to the most recent… and the so many faithful ones who did travel with us, and are now in heaven.
I gladly continue my service, with your permission, until that day. My prayers are full of hope for the peace and unity of this body, and that God will use this loving congregation for the prosperity of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our community and His loving mission unto the whole of humanity.
Grateful Pastor and Friend,
Our church received the news graciously… though with some tears, including ours… but with kind congratulations as well. (You can find the audio of the whole sermon on our Starnes Cove Baptist Website or our Mobile App.)
I am your pastor for two more months and will serve to help our leaders and church family prepare for the journey ahead. Our church is in a goodly place, with many solid servants of God, serving in all our key places. Our Deacons have accepted the charge to give their full prayerful and positive support to the process. I will work with our Deacon chairman (Rick Conard) and Personnel chairman (Mickey Martin) in the immediate days ahead to get our bearings. Our ministry-staff (William Moore and Billy Woody), and our support staff (Linda Smith, Monica Merrell, and Jeanette Woody) will be faithfully and cooperatively doing their part to make transition successful. More about the future will be shared as we go along. The work of the church is to carry on faithfully with our duties with a spirit of love and unity, and set ourselves to prayer, Prayer, PRAYER… that through all this God will lead guide and direct Starnes Cove Baptist to wonderful days ahead as agents of God’s Love.
“And If the Devil Doesn’t Like it, He can Sit on a Tack!”