After three-and-one-half years, Feb. 3 will be the last Sunday the Rev. Dr. Michael Lewis will serve as pastor of Plant City’s First Baptist Church.
“First Baptist is a wonderful church, and I love the community and am just so grateful for being able to be a part of it,” Lewis said. “I have nothing but a smile in my heart, seeing their lives spiritually enriched. They have been a congregation that is very involved in the community.”
Lewis has accepted a newly created position with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. As executive director of church revitalization and pastoral relations, Lewis will be responsible for counseling pastors at the 46,000 churches the convention has started. The convention strives to place churches in areas where there is not a Christian presence. Lewis will be based in Atlanta but will travel to various churches across North America to meet with pastors.
“The thing I’m passionate about is relating to and helping the pastors,” Lewis said. “Out of all the members of the congregation, the pastors are the most isolated. Some of these pastors will be out in obscure areas. Who takes care of the pastors? That’s what I will be doing.”
Lewis said he is grateful for the opportunity to encourage other pastors by taking the fellowship he had in Plant City and sharing it.
“A lot of the pastoral team are my friends,” Lewis said. “They’ve been to my house; I’ve been to theirs.”
During Lewis’ time in Plant City, he led First Baptist to start a ministry to feed the homeless at Veteran’s Memorial Park. On the second Saturday of each month, the congregation volunteers time to complete community projects, such as painting houses or assisting at the Boys and Girls Club.
Lewis became a Christian when he was 12 years old, after a friend died in a car crash.
“It created a real question in my heart,” Lewis said of the accident. “(After conversion) my life has never been the same. I’ve had such a sense of peace and contentment.”
After graduating from high school in Richmond Hill, Ga., Lewis attended Columbia International University and entered into his first pastorate at age 21. In 1996, he graduated with a master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and, in 2005, he received a doctoral degree of divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
Before coming to Plant City in May 2009, Lewis was a pastor at a large church in Texas.
Dr. Jim Henry will be serving as the transitional pastor until another senior pastor is selected. Henry was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Orlando and president of the Southern Baptist Conference.
“I have a deep love for First Baptist and Plant City,” Lewis said. “We’re going to miss the Strawberry Festival, too.”AirCrack aircrack ng