Barry McWilliams - Pastoral experience: 1975 - 2005
Including Twenty five Years of"Tent making" (self supported ministry, see below)
- Following graduation from Covenant Seminary in 1975, I had two brief pastorates
at Dodge, North Dakota, and at Waterloo, Illinois - both churches were
in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. After two rough
and discouraging experiences, we moved to Everett, Wa. in the Summer of
1979 where I took on secular employment in which I continued for 37
years until my retirement in 2017.
- From Summer, 1979 to the Spring of 1992, as first a borrowed elder and then, after 1982, as an Associate Pastor of Lake Stevens Presbyterian Church.
My ministry included:
- Preaching occasionally, at least monthly from 1991.
- Developing and teaching adult classes (Bible and topical) every year.
- Serving on the church session as an elder and as stated clerk for many years.
- Contributing to our summer vacation Bible school programs -
Directing, assisting, storytelling, doing elaborate decoration, and
creating contests and dramatic gospel presentations.
- Devising and writing four years of vacation Bible school curricula for Mission Church Fellowship.
- Writing and directing three Christmas productions/ plays.
- Developing a Parent's Night Out program
- Serving on the Presbytery's Administration and Christian Education Committees.
- In 1992, Pastor Pickett left. I was not eligible to be
considered as a pastoral candidate because of denominational rules
(B.O.C.O. 23.1) I made a personal commitment to work to keep the
congregation together, not suspecting it would be three and a half years
of a "tent making" interim ministry until another pastor was found.
This self-supported ministry included preparing worship services and
bulletins, arranging speakers, frequent preaching and teaching, and
sharing leadership and oversight of the congregation with a session of
one to three elders, while coping with the demands of a grocery store
work schedule that usually had me working six "days" a week, often
getting off at midnight. These efforts have been much appreciated by the
congregation and were fruitful despite rough times. The congregation
grew stronger, re-organized, and finally called a full-time pastor in
the fall of 1995.
- From the Spring of 1992 through the end of 1995, as a volunteer "interim" pastor
of Christ Church (formerly Lake Stevens Presbyterian Church, now Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church).
- Preached regularly, once or twice a month.
- Developed a distinctive worship service around Scriptural themes and coordinated worship service music, contemporary and traditional.
- Designed attractive bulletins with original computer art on a weekly basis.
- Served as a part of the ministry team (the elders), in moderating meetings and shared the tasks of caring for the congregation.
- Prepared and taught a regular adult Bible class on Sunday mornings.
- Served the Lord's Supper, baptized and counseled and joined in marriage.
- Served on the pulpit committee for a year.
- Encouraged and kept the congregation together through adverse circumstances
- Assisted in the reorganization of the congregation with the help of a church consultant, developing a congregational vision statement, adopting goals, and forming committees to implement goals
- In December of 1995, when Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church
finally installed a new Pastor, I resigned as Associate Pastor, and my
wife and I spent a year visiting other churches - which was hard for us -
but seemed necessary with the changes in ministry. I served as Head
Clergy for a Walk to Emmaus, but otherwise took time off from
ministry to work on the house and garden, and build my Web site. I
explored the possibility of full-time ministry. Eventually however, we
gradually returned to the Chapel Hill congregation. After a brief taste
of the "empty nest" my two children were again living at home and
attending a local community college. I continued at Safeway, now
approaching the twenty year mark.
- In the summer of 2000, the pastor of Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church
took a sabbatical and resigned as pastor early that fall. The session
took on the tasks of carrying on the ministry. It would not be until
December of 2004 that a new Pastor would be installed at Chapel Hill. My
involvement in this interim period was different - as an Assistant
Pastor, I was not a member of Session - my ministry was mostly teaching
and some preaching, but frequently I served communion. With a daughter
on the mission field in Hungary, and my own trips to Uganda - my wife
and I became increasingly involved in missions.
- Eldrbarry's Story Telling Page
has proved quite popular (with around 40,000 hits a month), and my
Online VBS materials have been used by a quite a few congregations and
ministries. It is being maintained and expanded.
- I took over teaching responsibilites for Adult Sunday School
in the fall of 1997 and continued in that responsibility. I have
researched and taught Adult classes in Dusting off the Good Book": pn interpreting the literature of the Bible; and
Encounters: Probing for the "lines": The Christian and Modern and Postmodern Thinking; and a lengthy study of the Book of Exodus, which included considerable study of ancient Egypt and an extended section of the Priesthood, Tabernacle and Offerings, had Hebrews as a follow-up. A class on the Reformers of the 16th Century
included the posting of many web pages of resources. For these classes
I often prepared copious numbers of handouts and did overheads - see
the Reformation Slide Show for examples. My wife and I taught a class on Being Married, and I did a number of Bible book studies, including 1 & 2 Thessalonians; and Ecclesiastes: A reality Check in 2002. In 2003, I taught a class on on Stewardship 101
dealing with managing our time, talents and treasures; issues of wealth
and the poor; and a Christian's role in Christian development, inspired
in part by my ministry in Uganda.
- The session called me to a staff position as Assistant Pastor for Equipping Ministries
in the Spring of 1998. As an Assistant, rather than an Associate, I was
not a member of Session - which enabled me to put more effort into my
teaching, which I enjoyed immensely, and less into meetings.
- In 1998, I wrote a VBS curriculum for the church, entitled A Pilgrim at the Fair - which used a staff dressed in Medieval Costumes, and an ongoing melodrama to present Jesus come to Seek and Save the Lost through Luke's Parables, which included Children's workbooks I designed. In 1999, I did Wanted! Children after God's Own Heart!
A western styled VBS program complete with a melodrama based on David's
"outlaw" years fleeing from Saul, and Psalm 34; which continues to
attract attention on the Internet.
- I also shared a portion of the preaching at Chapel Hill, and
preached from time to time for other local congregations. I developed
interesting Sermon Note sheets for inclusion within the worship
bulletins to accompany my sermons. I frequently served communion, which
was now being done weekly, especially when the pulpit supply was not
- In the Summer of 2003, I resigned as Assistant Pastor at Chapel Hill. At the same time, a McWilliams' Missions Fund was created to assist us in our future short term missions activities.
- In June of 2000, my daughter, Sarah Balogh, went to Kaposvar, Hungary as a missionary with International Messengers, and I have been assisting her with online prayer letters and other support. She married a Hungarian Christian in 2002. Our grandson, Robert Balogh, was born in October, 2004.
- I made a Missions trip to Uganda
in March, 2001 - along with a team from Covenant College led by Dr.
Henry Krabbendam, and three more three week teaching mission trips in March, 2003; May, 2005 and November, 2007 with John Pickett and a ACTI Team. I hoped to do more trips to Uganda as well as assist others to go in the future. My wife did women's ministry in short
term missions trips to Hungary until Sarah and family came to live in the United States in 2009. Following up on my Stewardship 101 study, I did further study with a Chalmers Center on line course, and Disciple Nations Alliance
materials. I served as chairman of the Mission to the World Committee
of the Pacific Northwest Presbytery from the fall of 1999 to the Spring
of 2008, seeking to encourage interest and involvement in missions.
- Beginning in the spring of 2004, my wife and I have
worshipped at a church that has changed its name and location several times,
but there have not been many opportunities for teaching ministry.
Originally Green Lake Presbyterian Church, then a multi-site
congregation (Crosspoint) - we were a part of the move to Lynnwood in
2007. It is now Ascension Presbyterian Church,
a particular congregation of the P.C.A. Pacific Northwest Presbytery.
We have shared in the congregation's tasks of set-up (as the church met
in a High School Lunchroom; in Edmonds College's multi-purpose room and
Black Box Theatre for a number of years; and I have continued that in
our current location - where we use the gymnasium of another church); and my wife
also assisted in the nursery and with preparing the elements for
communion. I taught an adult class on Bible Interpretation called "Dusting off the Good Book."
in the Fall of 2008, did Study Notes on Nehemiah in 2011, and a class on "The Attributes of God" in the
winter of 2016 in which I used Powerpoint as a part of the teaching.
I retired from Safeway in February, 2017 and my wife the following April. I have been a part of the Board of the (Non-profit) Seattle Storytellers Guild since 2015 - and edit their newsletter. We have four grandchildren here in Everett, and two in California - Grandparenting has its responsibilities. My neglected yard is getting some improvement. Still I long to be able to serve the Lord and His people in some way.
Why "bi-vocational ministry?"?
I pursued the call to ministry through college and seminary, but entered
into two pastoral situations without adequate experience. Twice
"burned", but sensing the call to minister God's Word - I made the
decision to support my family in secular employment, while
"volunteering" my training and gifts in a congregation that could barely
support its pastor. For the last thirty-seven years I supported my
family working for Safeway, the national grocery store chain as a
checker and grocery clerk. This kind of part time self-supporting
ministry was not easy and had clear limitations, but is biblical. (Acts
18:3; 20:34; 1 Cor 9:15; 1 Th 2:9; 2 Th 3:8). In Jesus' day most Rabbi's
worked for their living in various trades. It gave me freedom and
opportunity to discover, nurture and develop my unique gifts, and use
them faithfully in serving His people. It has also gave me many years
of valuable pastoral experience. My children have grown up with roots
and stability. I would have liked the opportunity to put away my "tents" and
to be able to devote my energy and talents in serving the Lord and His
people full time, but I will continue to serve Him with my gifts in
whatever place and role He puts me. [Back to the Top]
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© 2017 Barry McWilliams
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