Men's Breakfast Report, August 2012
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, August 11 with Tom Sharon, departing pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Tom has been pastor here for six years and is departing because we can no longer afford to pay him. This meeting is his opportunity to reflect on his stay here.
Tom is grateful to the other pastors in the city and the ministerial alliance. When he first came and settled into his office he found it lonely and somewhat daunting. Seminary tried to prepare him for being a sole pastor but the actual situation was still a new challenge. Abel Garcia, of the First Baptist Church, came by the first day and provided much needed encouragement.
The question of the future of the church in Freeport was raised. Tom thought that the church can grow in Freeport, even though our church is not doing well. Since pastors and members of many other churches were present, we were able to get reports from them about their status. Ondra Waddy reported that the First United Missionary Baptist Church had several younger members and had just built a fellowship hall. Robert Dohle of the Episcopal Church and Bob Leffingwell of the Methodist Church reported that they were getting some new younger members. Tom Watson of the New Birth Church reported that they were doing well. He said that their membership was about forty percent black, thirty percent white and thirty percent Hispanic. Their active service program is a draw for members. Tom is an assistant pastor at New Birth and is replacing Tom Sharon as president of the Freeport Ministerial Alliance. Tony Barnard is a member of Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in Lake Jackson. He reported that their membership has stabilized. They were going to expand, but have decided to remodel instead. He also reported that when he attended a Spanish Mass at Saint Mary’s in Freeport there was standing room only. Lee Attema, who will be our new pastor, pointed out that no one present spoke Spanish. He also said that most of his clients at the Freeport Medical Clinic were Spanish-speaking. This indicates that the churches must reach out to the Hispanic community to be effective in Freeport.
There was a discussion of tentmaker, unpaid bivocational pastorates. Winston Rossow, Robert Dohle, Ondre Waddy are bivocational and Lee Attema will be also. These pastors said that this can be empowering to the pastors and the church. The pastor does not have to worry about loss of income by annoying a member in a sermon. It also forces the members of the church to take responsibility for the mission of the church.
Tom Sharon said that his new position as hospital chaplain was a real call. He had interviewed for pastoral positions at a few churches in Brazoria County. In one case he was all but promised the job, but it was withdrawn by the session at the last minute. He received a call from his brother who said that Tom was meant to be a chaplain. Tom applied for a chaplain position and was offered a position which he immediately took.
The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be Saturday, September 8th.