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LAKE CITY (FBW)—Robert Davis hasn’t led First Baptist Church in Lake City since 2000, but the congregation showed its continuing love for its former pastor Feb. 10 by honoring him with the title pastor emeritus.
Invited to preach to the church he served for 23 years, Davis was completely surprised to receive the recognition.
“I am shocked,” an emotional Davis said after Pastor Robert Bass announced the honor and presented him with a framed certificate.
“I had no idea, really, I did not, of this honor that you’ve bestowed upon me. Believe me, I don’t take it lightly,” he said, calling out many friends, former ministry co-laborers and people to whom he has ministered over the years who attended the special service.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this honor and I will accept it and try to represent the Lord and First Baptist Church in a way which would please the Lord and you would be proud of it. Thank you very much,” he said.
Video tributes of Davis were offered by Rodney Brooks, minister of music at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, and John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.
Brooks, former minister of music at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, noted Davis helped him understand his call to ministry 32 years ago, and has been blessing to him throughout his ministry.
Recalling Davis’ counsel in his office at First Baptist Lake City, Brooks said, “I will never forget the time that you gave me on that day and it has stayed with me all these many years.”
Brooks said Davis has often encouraged him over the years with notes and other affirmations of his ministry.
“Today, I would just like to put my arms around you, Brother Robert, as you did for me so many times. I would just pull you in close and I just want to say to you, ‘Well done. You have blessed God’s people today and you have honored the Father,’” Brooks said, repeating words Davis often used to encourage him.
Sullivan quoted Psalm 1, saying via video, “That describes Robert Davis, man of integrity, who has given his entire life to ministry that he might bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.”
Since Davis has given “so much of his life and ministry” at First Baptist Lake City, Sullivan said it is “fitting” that he be recognized as pastor emeritus.
“God has some wonderful things yet to be done in your life,” he said. “Take those days that are yet to be born to your life, make them good days, profitable days, and enjoy the fruit of your labor. For you and Pat my prayer is that God’s richest blessings be upon you.”
Davis, 69, weakened by treatments for pancreatic cancer that he has been fighting for 18 months, preached while seated in a stool. He noted that he has announced his retirement from Woodstock Baptist Church in Jacksonville, effective March 31.
Expressing appreciation for the praise offered by Brooks and Sullivan, Davis quipped, “I felt like this was a dress rehearsal of my funeral.”
Davis briefly described the medical treatments he has received for cancer, expressing hope his strength would return.
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