JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—A long-tenured pastorate is not just about “gritting your teeth and saying, ‘I’m staying 20 years, no matter what,’” says Jacksonville pastor Tim Maynard, who celebrated last month his 20th anniversary as pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church.
“It’s not just about me staying,” said Maynard. “It’s such a partnership. … I think part of the story is the church very graciously allowed that to happen.”
Maynard, who was elected in November president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, reflected on his two decades as pastor of the congregation in an hour-long interview with Florida Baptist Witness.
The congregation celebrated his 20th anniversary in its Jan. 6 worship services, honoring Maynard and his wife of 35 years, Pam, with a financial gift and trip, which the couple plans to take in conjunction with their anniversary later this year.
That the congregation has been committed to that partnership with him for two decades makes Maynard a “recipient of that blessing, and I’m very thankful for that,” he said.
Maynard, 58, came to Florida from a ten-year-long pastorate in his native Bluegrass State not long after having told God he would go anywhere He sent him—as long as it was in Kentucky.
“Within a year of that statement, I was in Florida,” he said, adding, “There’s no place I want to be other than this church. I’ve got a great church. People are forgiving and they’re loving—and they let me [get] away with stuff,” embracing his creativity.
Not that his first few years at Fruit Cove were idyllic. Indeed, after two “bumpy” years, Maynard recalled he was ready to go back to Kentucky.
“It was painful,” he said, describing clashing visions between some church leaders and him, especially related to “very, very divergent opinions about missions.”
Similar to difficulties at the beginning of his only other pastorate in Sheperdsville, Ky., south of Louisville, after the initial trials, God gave progress, he said.
“You kind of had to ride the bronco for a little while, and then, if you stayed on it [long enough], it turned out to be a pretty smooth ride,” he said.
Starting with a congregation of about 200 members and a budget of about $200,000, Fruit Cove has grown to one of nearly 3,400 and a budget of nearly $5 million. During his tenure, the facilities and property of the congregation in southern Duval County has grown with improvements to enhance an expanding ministry.
Beyond burgeoning budgets, buildings and membership rolls, Maynard said his greatest satisfaction of his two-decade tenure at Fruit Cove is the evidence of God’s work in the lives of the people.
Many members have sent him notes of thanks for his 20th anniversary. Citing a letter from a church member who chronicled his ministry to her and her family over the years, Maynard said the “moving” note brought him and his wife to tears.
“To have that kind of history and relationship with people and be able to stand up on Sunday and preach with that kind of stuff underneath and behind what you’re saying, it’s hard to reproduce,” he said.
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