By now, most members of the First Baptist family know that I am resigning effective October 31 to accept the pastorate of the Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A copy of my letter of resignation is posted at www.fbcxmacon.org under the "This Week" tab.
I'll not repeat here what is in that letter. Suffice to say that this has been an agonizing decision. One does not easily dislodge a life and ministry where the roots of affection and devotion run so deep. Bambi and I could not have asked for a more loving, kind, or supportive community of faith. The hardest part about going to Knollwood is leaving you.
Nonetheless, I have a deep and abiding peace about this decision. That doesn't mean Bambi and I are in a state of complete serenity and calm. We continue to be buffeted by winds of tumult and waves of sadness. Our eyes are often wet with tears. Still, in the eye of the storm, we have found the kind of peace Jesus gives: the conviction, courage, and strength to do what we believe we are called to do. As Alexander MacLaren observed, "If Christ offers you his cross, take it. He always carries the heavy end himself."
To be sure, there are some perks for us in this decision. We'll be moving "home," although we've lived in Macon almost as long as I lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I grew up. The Knollwood Church is only a half-hour or so from where my mom, sister, and Bambi's brother live and about that distance from Bambi's pre-Civil War home place. It will be a blessing to be nearer our families. And instead of being a 12-hour drive from Whitney (and that grandbaby in the making!), we'll be just over five hours from northern Virginia where she and Jay live. That means seeing our daughter and family turns into a quick weekend trip instead of a long and difficult journey.
But bottom line, this decision was not driven by such considerations. It was driven by the heartfelt conviction Bambi and I are being called to a new life and ministry for reasons that, in large measure, are fully known only to our gracious, loving God.
As for First Church, Macon, I have no doubt this congregation will thrive in the months and years to come. FBCX is a treasure trove of talent, passion, and proven excellence in service to God and neighbor. We are blessed with able lay leaders with the vision, maturity, and competence to lead our church through a time of transition toward a bright, new future.
And someday, in the not too distant future, another pastor will be given the unspeakable privilege of being loved, shaped, and sculpted by God's people at the top of Poplar. And forever after, he or she will call your name "blessed," as do I.