Calvary Baptist Church finds pastor after 11-month vacancy
January 12, 2009
What does a man do after he’s earned a bachelor’s of science degree in biblical studies, a master’s degree in Old Testament theology and has a hankering for adventure?
In Lee Byram’s case, the answer meant traveling the country and starting churches.
For 11 years, he has thrived on traveling to new communities to bring together congregations from scratch.
“The whole faith issue of following God into a situation where I really had no idea what the outcome would be -that’s always been intriguing to me (and) a place I enjoy being,” he said.
That same thirst for adventure lead Byram to Craig last month, where he took over the pulpit of Calvary Baptist Church. He was accompanied by his wife, Dee, and his children: Dale, 17; Aaron, 15; Beth, 14; James, 12; Ella, 4 and Joseph, 2.
Byram began founding churches in 1997. His most recent assignments included establishing Spanish-speaking and Korean congregations in Las Vegas.
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Recently, however, Byram chose to leave church-planting so he and his family could set down roots.
“I have six children, and some of those are turning into teenagers,” he said. “I really felt like they need the stability of no more moving.”
Timing also played a factor in his decision.
Byram said he felt his calling change from starting churches to becoming a pastor. It so happened that he heard about an opening in Craig at about the same time.
“I don’t call it a coincidence,” he said.
Finding a pastor marked the end of a long road for the church’s pastor search committee. Calvary Baptist’s congregation had been without a pastor for 11 months.
As the search lengthened, deacons and congregants filled the pulpit as needed.
The committee reviewed more than 100 resumes before finding Byram, said Fred Charles, Calvary Baptist Church deacon and search committee member.
After surveying church members, the group compiled a list of qualities they wanted in their new leader.
Charles thinks the congregation has finally found what it was looking for.
“He fit the bill better than anyone we had,” he said.
In Charles’ view, Byram is the right man for the job.
“I think, personally, he fits right in with us,” he said. “He’s kind of an old country boy, and he’s had to work all his life.”
Byram said his first priority will be to familiarize himself with his new community and congregation.
His plan: “Meet them where they are, find out what their needs are and help them, whatever their situation might be,” he said.