Sunday, August 5, will mark the 25th anniversary of my becoming the Senior Pastor of Chisholm Baptist Church. On August 3, 1993, Nancy and I (along with our two oldest boys, the two youngest had not been born) left our home outside of Poplar, WI, followed a big U-Haul van, and headed north for the Iron Range. We had lived in the greater Duluth area for eight years, but had never been past Menard’s until our first trip to Chisholm a couple of months earlier. During that visit, we had been impressed by the personal warmth and dedication to the Lord evident among the people of the congregation. As a result, when the church invited me to become its Pastor, we accepted. We assumed we would probably spend five to ten years in Chisholm and then move to another congregation. God, however, had other plans. The five years went by quickly and soon became ten, and by then, the Iron Range had become home. We sensed Chisholm was where the Lord had called us and were not inclined to go anywhere else, unless it was clear He wanted us to do so. Now, after twenty-five years, we have no real plans other than to continue to serve at Chisholm Baptist as long as God gives us the strength and energy to do so.
As I look back over the past twenty-five years, I am very thankful to:
The congregation of Chisholm Baptist Church. This was a good church long before I arrived. I believe it is a better church today. Whether that is because of, or despite, my ministry is for the Lord to judge. As I compare notes with other pastors, I realize Chisholm Baptist is a rather easy church to serve. Why? Because so many members of the congregation truly love the Lord Jesus and are committed to serving Him. For twenty-five years they have treated this pastor very well. During this time I have attended 300 monthly church board meetings. I can truthfully say I have left every meeting, even the ones that ran late into the night, feeling grateful the Lord has called me to serve this congregation. Best of all, at Chisholm Baptist, I have found some of the most wonderful friends I could ever imagine.
The community of Chisholm, Minnesota. I am not a native Iron Ranger. Pastors, especially Baptist pastors, sometimes make other people feel uncomfortable. Yet I have always felt accepted in this community—even when I am wearing my green and gold apparel. Chisholm has been a good place for our four boys to grow up. Our interactions with teachers, athletic coaches, and business people have almost all been positive. Chisholm is a community with a rich heritage and unique flavor. It is home of the finest Italian restaurant in Minnesota. Only in Chisholm could I have the opportunity to get to know some of the “colorful, but kind” individuals which have made this such a special town.
The Lord. There are many aspects to a pastor’s job, but the most important and most rewarding is being able to stand before a congregation and tell them the great news that through faith in Jesus Christ, we can experience God’s gracious salvation. I have been able to do that on over 1200 Sunday mornings these past twenty five years. What an incredible privilege!
In some ways, twenty-five years is a long time. In other ways, it is just a tiny speck on the timeline of eternity. I am most grateful I have been able to spend the past twenty-five years as the Senior Pastor of Chisholm Baptist Church.