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 have continued for 25 years.
- 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 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: on 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 ordained.
- In the Summer of 2003, I resigned as Assistant Pastor at Chapel Hill. As the church was soon to get a new pastor, it seemed the right time to leave. I felt my ministry there was completed. 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 grandsons, Robert and Benjamin Balogh, were born in Hungary.
- 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 but with the change in the economy, opportunties have not been there. My wife did women's ministry in short term missions trips to Hungary and with a married daughter there, we can anticipate future ministry there as well. Following up on my Stewardship 101 study, I have done 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.
- In 2008, My daughter and her husband, and our two grandsons came to Everett to live and have been here since. Two grand-daughters were born here. My son, Paul, after service in the Navy, College, another year in the Navy after 9-11, and University is employed by IBM in San Jose, CA where he married in 2006, and we have two granddaughters there as well.
- Since the spring of 2004, my wife and I have worshipped at what is now Ascension Presbyterian Church, Lynnwood, - We have met in three locations, most recently in the Gymnasium of the Edmonds Church of God. There were several pastoral changes before the present pastor was called. A larger church meeting in rented facilities, there have not been opportunities for teaching ministry, but we have shared in the congregation's tasks of set-up and take-down in rented facilities; and my wife assisted in the nursery and with preparing the elements for communion. Originally Green Lake Presbyterian Church, meeting at Ballard High School, then for several years a multi-site congregation meeting at Edmonds Community College called Crosspoint Churches then moving to Lynnwood in 2007 where it became a particular church in 2014.
- I taught an adult class on Bible Interpretation called "Dusting off the Good Book" in 2008; and I prepared a Discussion Questions for a study of Nehemiah used by Parish Groups in the fall of 2011. But apart from that there have been no invitations for preaching or teaching, both of which I have very much missed for years, though I have kept my "tools" (library, languages, software) sharp. Our church offers little to motivate me to serious Bible study, even the weekly small groups just discuss last week's sermon. After "being without call" at Presbytery for a number of years and not actively seeking one - I was honorably retired by Presbytery - though I hoped for and wanted continued teaching and preaching opportunities even though I wasn't pursuing a pastoral call.
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-five years I have supported my family working for Safeway, the national grocery store chain as a checker and grocery clerk. The odd working hours (mostly evenings, nights, weekends gave me time to study, though it limited opportunities for fellowship. This kind of part time self-supporting ministry is not easy and has 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 has given me freedom and opportunity to discover, nurture and develop my unique gifts, and use them faithfully in serving His people. It has also given 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 be able to devote my energy and talents in serving the Lord and His people full time, but I wanted to continue to serve Him with my gifts in whatever place and role He puts me.
Sadly it seems that "teaching" ministry is for younger men, and those who aren't employed by their ministry are looked down upon as well. That is the flip side of "tent making" - who would brag a pastor makes tents or checks groceries for a living. For many years I thought my retirement years could be of use to the church or missions, but that seems unlikely now. My local church seems to have no use for me. I have continued working at Safeway, thirty five years in 2014 - working full time day shifts as front end manager and grocery clerk with now little free time or energy for study - persevering till retirement - i.e. social security at 66. Being grandparents has kept us busy too. Perhaps my anticipated story telling business - Eldrbarry's Family Tales will give me opportunities once I am finally free of the checkstand. [Back to the Top]
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