Lebanon Baptist Church, a country congregation of about 30 that meets in a historic building on Forbes Road, celebrated its 73-year history Oct. 19. And, the church’s new pastor, Tim Partridge, was installed just in time to be at the reunion to meet the generations that have worshipped at Lebanon before him.
Partridge has a distinct employment history compared with many pastors who conventionally came into the ministry. Before he felt called to guide people into eternal life, he worked full-time saving their lives — as a paramedic for 25 years. His first three years were with Polk County EMS and the remaining 22 were with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.
In 2006, he switched gears completely when he became as assistant pastor at Alafia Baptist Church in Lithia, where he also had been a deacon and Sunday school teacher.
“It was something that was hanging in the back of my head for a long time, and I finally just surrendered to actually listen to what God was calling,” Partridge said.
Partridge had heard from a friend that Lebanon’s previous pastor of 17 years had retired last fall, and the church had an interim pastor while it sought someone to take the position full-time. He applied, was selected and started at Lebanon Sept. 1.
Partridge said his goals are to determine how the church can meet the needs of its community and how it can grow.
“Starting in January ... we will be striving very hard for 12 new professions of faith and baptisms through our evangelistic efforts,” Partridge said.
This equates to one new believer each month for a year. One of Partridge’s pastor friends recommended a focus on small, concrete efforts as stepping stones to greater church growth.
He also hopes to have church members connect with neighbors through door-to-door visits.
Each year, Lebanon commemorates its anniversary with a reunion gathering. This year’s Homecoming was on Sunday, Oct. 19, in honor of the church’s 73rd year.
Margaret Watson, one of Lebanon’s church clerks, has been at the church for 48 years and always looks forward to the autumnal celebration.
“People come and go, you know, and on Homecoming, a lot of them come back that day,” Watson said. “I love seeing the people, and I just love the church.”
The Homecoming offered music from the Woodards, a family of musicians who do not attend the church, but play and sing at Lebanon’s special events. The guest speaker was Elvin Hall, who pastored the church in the 1950s.
The celebration concluded with a potluck dinner.
Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].