Rustlings (April 18, 2016)

I had purchased my first VW Beetle. It was a white, 1968 classic with sunroof and typically rusted floor pans. I was excited to own my ‘dream car’…but…I did not know how to drive a manual transmission, better known as a stick shift. My kind and patient familial instructor drove me to a local church parking lot. She parked the car, handed me the keys, we circled the vehicle and changed seats. The training began. I learned about the patterned movement of the stick shift. I got a feel for the ‘sweet spot’ on the clutch and the rev of the engine in each gear. Before long, we were on the road; I was navigating more difficult terrain. I struggled with learning to ‘get going’ on the steep inclines as well as ‘gear down’ for turns and down hill stretches. Today, I can mindlessly and somewhat smoothly make these transitions…

I’m wondering how many persons Baxter Wynn has pastored through the shifts and transitions of life during his ministry at First Baptist Greenville? How many people has he helped find the sweet spot in tough times? How often has he helped parishioners understand the unpredictable complexity of life’s timing? Can we number the times he’s sat with a church member who was facing a hill, not sure they could get a grip, get started, let alone make it over? How often has his calming presence and conveyance of God’s calming presence allowed an anxious soul to gear down? How many transitions and shifts has Baxter pastored us through?

When I came to serve as Senior Minister at FBG, Baxter told me his primary role, in his final months of professional ministry, was to make my transition as smooth and successful as possible. Added to that, he was determined to make our next Minister of Pastoral Care’s (Kendra Plating) transition as smooth and successful as possible. As expected, he has competently and compassionately achieved both.

Now, Baxter is in transition – shifting into another gear of life. On Sunday, May 1, Baxter will be preaching in our morning worship service and receive our love at a reception later in the day. I encourage you to be here for him on that day. Let’s sit beside him – encourage and affirm him – as he gears down and finds the sweet spot in this new chapter of life…

— Jim