You must be a registered user to access our website. Please complete the registration form at no cost, or login if you are already a registered user. Be assured, your registration information is secure and will not be sold or made available to others.
To learn why registration is now required, see this editorial on the website changes. Once you have completed the registration process, to include verification of your email address, a cookie will be placed on your computer to automatically complete the login process in the future.
Registered users, click here.
New users or if you have never registered before, click here.
LIVE OAK (FBW)—It takes time to achieve “really significant things” in a church, according to Jimmy Deas, who recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as pastor of Westwood Baptist Church in Live Oak.
The congregation celebrated Deas’ two decades of leadership Feb. 24 with recognition in the worship service, a church-wide meal, and a cash gift.
“My previous longest pastorate was five years,” Deas told Florida Baptist Witness reflecting on his landmark anniversary. “In this 20-year pastorate, I learned that it takes time to accomplish really significant things. The same is true for the church. Nothing significant is usually accomplished when there is a continual turnover of pastors.”
Although Westwood has had 12 pastors, for nearly one-third of its 66-year existence, Deas has led the Live Oak congregation. Previously, Deas, 65, served five churches in Florida and one Georgia congregation. On March 3, Deas announced plans to retire as Westwood's pastor, effective April 21.
During his 20 years at Westwood, Deas has seen many changes—in his own preaching and in how the congregation functions, he said.
“My preaching is more application-oriented than it was 20 years ago,” Deas said. “Early in my ministry, I focused more on exposition and teaching. I still explain the Scriptures, but try to do it in a way that applies more to needs and issues.”
Because of his long tenure at Westwood, Deas has been learn about the needs of members of the church, making him “more able to preach to their needs,” he said.
“In recent years, our people have expressed that my preaching has improved. I would hope that is true and that they are getting more of what the Bible has to say,” Deas said.
Styles—in dress and music—have also changed, he noted.
“Congregations are more informal than 20 years ago. I have changed somewhat to fit this. I don’t wear a tie on Sunday night and dress very casually on Wednesday night,” he said.
Westwood has also adjusted its music over the years, Deas said.
“I have been fortunate to work with a worship leader who stays current with the music we sing and a congregation that has embraced the newer music,” he said.
Deas said the church has kept pace with technological changes, including the use of power point presentations in his sermons and other forms of technology.
His greatest disappointment and greatest satisfaction during 20 years at Westwood involve the same matter—the church’s family life center.
The first attempt to build the facility about 12 years ago failed.
“I was tremendously disappointed because we really needed the space. However, we would have incurred a significant debt had we built,” he said.
Five years ago, the effort was renewed. “We built a wonderful building and it’s almost debt free,” Deas said.
Serving 20 years at Westwood has also significantly shaped the Deas family.
“My family has become a part of Live Oak,” he said. Deas and his wife, Sherry, have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. His youngest daughter, Traci, was married in the church, where she and her family continue to worship.
Deas is also actively involved in the Live Oak community, including serving as a police chaplain for a number of years.
During his pastoral service in Florida, Deas has been an active state convention denominational work.
Deas currently serves as parliamentarian of the Florida Baptist State Convention—a role he has held for 19 years. Additionally, he has been first vice president of the FBSC, has preached the convention sermon, served as secretary of the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference, and member of the Committee on Nominations.
He has also served as a trustee of The Baptist College of Florida and on the board of directors of Florida Baptist Witness.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.