On February 2, 2020, I am humbled and honored to be the guest speaker at Grace Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina. It is indeed a privileged pulpit in which to stand. For years, it was pastored by a faithful man of God, Clayton Schumpert. In the 90's, God gifted that church with Dr. Bob Kelly. He was one of the finest Baptist pulpiteers of a previous generation. Most recently, since 2007, the preacher has been Dr. Bill Egerdahl. The occasion for which I am tasked to preach will be the retirement celebration of Pastor Bill. Seeing that only ten percent of pastors retire as pastors, this is a rare occasion worthy of attention.
Pastor Bill entered the pastoral ministry as he finished his Bible college training. Later on, he planted a church in Lawrence, Kansas. Then, God called him to pastor the Twin City Bible Church in Nitro, West Virginia. That's where I entered the picture. When he arrived in West Virginia, I was a rebellious teenager estranged from God and His Church. Through the tender prayers of my mother and the faithful witness of this preacher, I came to faith in Christ. In fact, it was on May 25th, 1997, that I personally accepted Christ as my Savior. Pastor Bill knelt with me on the carpet of a Sunday school classroom when I called on the name of the Lord.
Pastor Bill, then invested in my life as the Apostle Paul did to Timothy. He taught me. He modeled the faith to me. He gave me opportunities to preach, lead, and serve. All the while, he gently corrected, instructed, and loved. It was his example that compelled me to serve Christ with my life. I was called to preach in the warm environment of the church he led. He chose to give his life to Christ, the Church, and the next generation. I am proud to minister under the shadow of his influence.
On that cool February Sunday morning in South Carolina, I plan to stand and declare the Word of God for the honor of Jesus. I also plan to give honor to a man who is completing a ministry well done.
I have attached here the letter of tribute that I wrote to him for this occasion. I pray that you will be encouraged by this story. Also, I pray that you will take some time today to thank a faithful pastor.