BY MELANIE BUCK –
First Baptist Church welcomes Lance Sawyer as their new Senior Pastor. Sawyer and wife Melina, are finding Mena to be the perfect niche to raise their sons: Jake, 15, and Luke, 13.
Being born and raised in Alabama, Sawyer attended Auburn University for four years where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. From their he attended seminary at New Orleans Seminary where he received his Masters of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
After college, Sawyer pastored two churches in Alabama before moving to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 2004 where he lived and ministered at First Baptist Church of Muskogee for ten years.
“Mena is about the same size as the town I grew up in so it feels familiar. Muskogee is six times as big, the biggest city I’ve ever lived in. I loved the church there, but the town was just a little big for me,” said Sawyer of why he chose Mena as his next chapter. “About a year ago, God started giving me a sense that my mission was done there, that I had completed what I was supposed to do and that it was ok to start looking for what might be next. So I started praying that He would send me to a small town where I could finish raising my kids.”
Sawyer is well impressed with Mena saying, “I really like this town. It’s a clean town. It’s a healthy town. It’s very impressive. The people in the stores here are just so nice. You don’t even have to ask them for help, they just care, you don’t find that everywhere.”
He is excited to be at FBC of Mena, “I’ve been here two Sundays but they’ve both been very inspirational. There are a lot of people coming that haven’t been in a long time.” He’s particularly excited about changes that are underway regarding the worship ministry and explains that the church is in a transitional phase while seeking a new worship pastor, “I want visitors to be prepared that if they show up on a Sunday, that what they see in terms of music is temporary,” stated Sawyer.
Melina is a homemaker and will also be involved in the church, teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. She also looks forward to starting a greeting ministry, like a welcoming team.
FBC has been without a pastor since February 2013, when Brother David McCord resigned due to health problems with his wife. The church has been patient, searching for just the right person.
Sawyer is grateful to have been accepted and excited to see what God has in store for FBC. He welcomes anyone who doesn’t have a church home to join them for services. First Baptist Church has services on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Sunday School begins at 9:30 on Sundays and worship begins at 10:30 a.m. The church has revamped their Wednesday night schedule to focus on young families. “We serve a meal from 5:30-6:30 so people can come straight from work. They can come in their work clothes and grab a plate and eat while I’m talking. We always do a couple of songs and have a messege.” The whole family eats together and then they are split into groups for 30-minute study sessions so everyone is done by 7 p.m.