During Sunday morning’s worship on January 25, 2015, St. Luke’s long-time Lead Pastor, Dr. Bill Barnes, announced his retirement before the congregation.
The following is a letter from Pastor Bill.
January 25, 2015
My dear friends and fellow servants of Jesus Christ:
On May 28, 1974, in Branscomb Auditorium on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, I knelt as Bishop Joel McDavid placed his hand upon my head and ordained me to ministry in The United Methodist Church. Back then I had a full head of hair, and given the styles in those days, if you can believe it, a mustache!
Thus began my 41-year career of service to our Lord Jesus Christ as a member of the clergy. I served inner city, suburban, and rural churches in Georgia and Florida, as well as Chaplain of Florida Southern College. I met Kim in one of those churches along the way, and she has been my partner in marriage and ministry for 37 years.
Back in 1974, very few United Methodist clergypersons stayed more than 4 or 5 years at any local church, so when we were appointed to St. Luke’s in 1992, Kim and I never thought we would be here long enough to raise our children, see them married, and then have grandchildren climbing over the sanctuary altar rails on Sunday. More than half of my professional career in the church has been here at St. Luke’s, for which we are more grateful than words can express.
After much prayer and discernment with family, our clergy team, St. Luke’s leaders, and our Bishop, I have decided to retire from active pastoral ministry effective June 30, 2015.
However, at the same time, I will be responding to a fresh wind of the Spirit as I assume the role of Director of The St. Luke’s Center for Church Leadership. You will be hearing more about this exciting collaboration of seminary education, distance learning, global peace and reconciliation, leadership development, and community transformation in the months to come.
Thank you for loving us as a clergy family and for giving us the inexpressible gifts of loving you and serving alongside you for the sake of the Kingdom and the joy of the Lord.