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  • Writer's pictureBarry Peters

My Appreciation

You’ve probably seen it posted on Facebook or maybe have even heard it at church this month. It’s Pastor Appreciation Month. Yes, every October, we are to take the time to let our pastors know how much we appreciate them.

I’ve been very blessed to have quite a few pastors who personally have impacted my life greatly. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. I’d like you to meet them. I’ll start with whom it started, for my family, and move forward to today.

Pastor E.L. Britton (Founder/ Former Pastor of Fairwinds Baptist Church, DE)

Pastor E.L. is an amazing man who is still singing and preaching at age 97. He pastored the same church for 40+ years. My family and I were blessed for him to be our pastor for so many years. He is still a very dear friend to our family. When I was a teenager, I specifically remember him telling me in our school cafeteria that God had great plans for me in ministry. He has always been faithful to family, friends and to the church.

Pastor Tim Britton (Former Pastor of Fairwinds Baptist Church, DE / Current Lead Pastor of Crossroads Bible Church, MD)

Pastor Tim took over after his father retired when I was a kid. I’ve know him all my life. I was blessed that he took me under his wing and showed me a lot about ministry. He encouraged me to preach, to enroll in Bible college as well as allowed me to do various tasks alongside him in ministry. Little did he know the impact that the car rides to pick up guest speakers would impact me the way they did. He also had a strong passion for music as did I so we would work on scheduling in music groups together. He is a great communicator as well as organ player. I tried to take organ lessons, but that didn’t pan out too well for me.😉 I just stuck to the communication part, I guess.

Pastor Carlo DeStefano (Current Pastor of Fairwinds Baptist Church, DE)

Mr. D (as we called him) was my Christian school principal for all my school years. He became the senior pastor at Fairwinds shortly after I left for college. However, I was privileged to know he and his family well. They are still best of friends with my parents to this day. Having my dad and the school principal as best friends sometimes was not the best thing for me and my siblings.😉 I appreciate his dedication to ministry. He just turned 70 and has no plans to retire.

Pastor Tom Messer (Current Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, FL)

When I enrolled at Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Florida, it was a prerequisite that you had to attend Trinity Baptist Church. They were a church in transition as their former pastor was retiring after 30+ years and Pastor Messer was taking over. He was in his mid-thirties at that time and brought a lot of energy to an established church. He had to navigate through some rough situations but handled them so well. I admired him very much for his faithfulness. Little did I know of the impact Pastor Messer would make in my life. My brother was on staff at TBC so it allowed me to spend more time around the staff. Pastor Messer loves golf and I just so happened to work at a nearby golf course he loved. I remember one staff member telling me that I spent more time with the Senior Pastor than anyone on staff (thanks to our times on the course). Pastor Messer was right alongside me through some of the darkest hours of my life. He was also there to congratulate me as I graduated college. It’s been years since we golfed but I hope to do it again in the near future.

Pastor Greg Peters (Founder / Current Pastor of Parkview Church, FL)

Well, what can I say here. I have the greatest privilege to not only have worked for my brother, but continue to do life and ministry with him (even though we are miles apart). Greg started Parkview when I was in college and he asked me to help him. It was a joy to have served as a volunteer, then part-time employee to a full-time pastor at Parkview over the course of 10 years. I’ve learned a lot from him. I am blessed to have him not just as my brother but also as a mentor and more importantly, best friend. We talk a few times a week whether it be about the church world, our fun family, or our next vacation. He is a constant encourager to me. I thank God for the relationship we have maintained.

Pastor Stan Asby (Current Senior Pastor of Sweet Gum Grove Church, NC)

Thirteen and a half years ago, I meet my wife Laura for our first date after flying to North Carolina. Most dates don’t meet the “father in-law” even before going on the first date. Since my trip was very brief after being in town for only 36 hours, we had a lot to accomplish in a short period of time. Our date began by stopping by her house so she could get changed from her work clothes. Her dad was home so she invited me in to meet him. A little nerves hit me pretty quickly. However, Mr. Asby was very welcoming. Now I have the opportunity to stand in that same kitchen and continue great conversations with him. He is not only a great father in-law to me, but also is a passionate bi-vocational pastor (pastor and driving instructor). He loves to read and study for sermon prep and it is shown through his teaching. It has been an honor to fill-in speaking for him when we are home for the holidays.

Pastor Ed Stetzer (Former Lead Pastor of Grace Church, TN; Current Interim Pastor of Moody Church, IL)

Ed and I were introduced at a lunch meeting through a mutual friend in ministry. Shortly thereafter (about 10 weeks to be exact), my family and I were loading up a Penske truck to move to Hendersonville, Tennessee to plant a church with him and his family as well as one other couple. God allowed us to team up and plant Grace Church which expanded into 2 campuses throughout the first 3 years. It was a wild ride as we had a very unique staff dynamic. Ed and our executive pastor worked full-time jobs and volunteered their time to the church. I along with Jess Rainer (who came onboard shortly after we began) were the full-timers. Due to Ed’s schedule, our staff meetings were at 6:30am about every 10 days in his home gym. We planted Grace Church while on elliptical machines as well as through email exchange. I learned a lot from Ed. He was the one that engrained in me that the two most important things in growing a church are spending time with leaders and the lost. I appreciate all he taught me. He was very kind to me and my family.

Pastor David Landrith (Former Lead Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church, TN)

In 2010, we moved to Tennessee not knowing but a few people. Because we hadn’t officially launched our church yet, we needed a place to attend church. A friend recommended that we try Long Hollow. The church had multiple campuses and over 6,000-7,000 people attending. I met David a few weeks after attending and he was so kind to my family. He knew we were planting a church in the same town and still welcomed us with open arms. I remember walking away thinking he’ll probably never remember me again. Two weeks later, we ended up at a local pastor’s meeting with about 150+ pastors. I knew he was there but was floored when my phone buzzed notifying me that I was mentioned in a Tweet. It was David giving me a shout out on Twitter saying that he was glad to see me at the meeting. David became a constant encourager for me and my family. We ended up attending there about once a month even after we planted Grace Church because they had Saturday and Sunday night services. I loved his communication skills and was honored to sit under his ministry for those years. David is the only pastor mentioned today who is no longer living. David succumbed to cancer 3 years ago. Hearing of his passing was very emotional for me.

Pastor Steve Markle (Current Lead Pastor of Sycamore Creek Church, OH)

For the past 4+ years, I’ve been blessed to work alongside a dear friend. Ironically, we didn’t even know each other before my journey began at Sycamore Creek. After my interview, I remember specifically telling my wife Laura that I knew I’d love to work for Steve and that if he didn’t hire me that we may just need to move here anyways to go to Sycamore Creek. There are so many things I could say about Steve but I believe the one word that best describes him is—faithful. He is faithful to his family (and models that incredibly well), the church (he loves ministry and the people), and His Savior (his passion to reach people is awesome). He is not just my boss, but an incredible friend.

There are other pastors who have been a part of my life such as Chip Keller, Jerry Factor, Jim Flohr, David Denson, Jimmy Crockett, Jimmy Disney, Quentin Asby, Jeremy Rose and more. I’m indebted to them as well. But to the 9 men I spoke of above, I can’t thank you enough for your investment in my life. I pray that I can be a difference maker like you.

Take a moment this Sunday or next and let your pastor know how much you appreciate him. Or post on his Facebook wall so others can see your appreciation as well.

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