I read recently that the average tenure for pastors is 18 months. In my early days, I served as a youth minister for a year in one church and for a year in another. As a pastor, I served in my first church for a year before moving to serve about two years in another. My tenure in my third church lasted 14 months. And on it went. In my early days, tenure was short.
In June 1983, I moved to my current community and served in a church for over 13 years before planting my current church, where I have been for almost 18 years. So, come June, I have spent 31 years in the Fayette/Coweta counties of Georgia. This is my home and I intend to stay here the remainder of my life.
A long tenure has many benefits, but I was reminded of one of those important benefits this week. I have been blessed by watching children grow into adulthood. Some of those adults graduate from college or high school this year.
I have known Erin Zauner (B.S. in Community Health and Non-Profit Management, Georgia College and State University) almost all her life. I watched her three older sisters graduate from college and officiated at the weddings of two of them.
Raquel Lynn Offield (B.L.A. in Media Studies and a B.S. in Psychology, Mercer University) has been part of our church since her middle school days.
When Denise Landon (A.S. Dental Hygiene, Valedictorian, West Georgia Technical College) joined our ranks, she was a high school student.
When the family of Elizabeth Benson (B.A. in Biology, Covenant College) came to our congregation, she was just beginning her studies. And now, they are all prepared to begin a new phase in their lives.
Our three high school graduates I have known all of their lives. Erin Skaggs (Trinity Christian School), Mackenzie Bond-McGee and Tristan Epps (McIntosh High School), have been known to me since they were new-born babies.
Erin is graduating from a school that I helped to found, which is a source of profound pride. I have watched her move from the nursery to being a talented singer, musician, and worship leader at our church. She will be heading off to college this fall.
I have known Mackenzie’s father since his dad was about 6 years old and have been close friends with the family for nearly 30 years. It has been fun to watch him grow from an infant that I held in my arms to a man who is now taller than me. He is thinking about enlisting in the United States Navy.
Tristan is my grandson whom I held in my arms moments after he was born. He has developed a quirky sense of humor (wonder where he got that?) that brings a laugh and lightens a room. He’s a bit undecided about the next step but I have no doubt he will succeed in whatever he attempts.
Another Tristan, Tristan McGee, also graduates this year. He and his family moved to North Carolina not so very long ago due to a job relocation, but he is still part of our family. In late 1996, Tristan was the first person baptized in our newly planted church, a distinction he will always hold.
There’s a whole new crop of small children in our congregation and two babies are “in the oven” and on the way.
For as long as the Lord allows, I expect to be here, to be their pastor, and to watch them grow and develop. Maybe I will see them graduate, too.
You don’t get that in an 18-month tenure or even a several years tenure. It takes a long time to see what I have seen. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at email@example.com. Easter services at Christ the King will be at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.]