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“Those months made me realize that was where God was leading me,” he said.
He accepted the pastorate of Southside Baptist in June 1986—“the right decision,” he said. He was charged with “taking a church that had split and taking them back to health.” He said Southside Baptist, with 800 resident members, is now “a good, solid, Bible-believing church.”
“Three generations in the church know sound doctrine and its importance,” he said. “We teach that all Christians are soul-winners—not just staff, and we have to take every opportunity to share our faith.”
Although Vande Weghe would have been content to continue a full-time ministry, two “wake-up calls” convinced him to change his plans. First, the Social Security Administration let him know that could not continue to “put money in.” It was time to “take money out,” they told him.
The Vande Weghe’s vacation cabin in Trion, N.C., had been used by several other ministers for respite during the years, but only rarely by its owners. When someone asked him, in his wife’s presence, what would happen if they never got to use it, he learned her feelings on the subject. That was the second wake-up call, he said.
“She said that I had worked 70-80 hours a week since we married, and she wanted some time with me. I will slow down at her request. She deserves that,” he said.
Vande Weghe will continue to preach at Southside Baptist until the couple’s house in Brandon sells, or until the church calls a new pastor. They then will leave their son and two grandsons in Florida and move near their daughter, Dawn Fleischman, and her two daughters in the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. area. They plan to live in their isolated mountain cabin during summer months.
His “redirecting” plans include supply preaching, evangelism and chaplaincy work. He will continue what he has enjoyed most during his ministry—“being a personal pastor, spending time with the people,” he said.
“We’ve built buildings and numbers at Southside, but it’s really still about the lives of the people,” he said.
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