Jerry Jamison, a long-time member and former deacon of Faith Church, shares how the Lord worked in and through the calling of Pastor Goode to Faith Church.
Faith had been without a pastor for about 9 months. During that time I was the Chairman of the Deacons. Faith’s Constitution also made me the moderator of the church anytime the pastoral position was open. These were difficult times for Faith…the congregation and its leaders. I still thank God for his mercy and protection. I was blessed by our GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches) state representative (Irwin “Wyn” Olson) and the staff of the national office for their help in our searching for a pastor and for filling the pulpit on many Sunday’s. This will probably all sound strange to those of you in Faith Church now; but that was how it was done back then. Faith was a small church at the time and we did small church things.
Faith Before Pastor Goode
We had been active in what was described at the time as the “fast growing” Sunday School movement. This meant having many Sunday school promotions, six re-painted busses, equipped with bus captains who would go through their assigned neighborhoods encouraging children to come to Sunday School the next day. This worked quiet well bringing in many children. In April of 1972 we peaked with three Sunday’s with attendance over 800. We thought we were doing great; but reality soon struck. Having an imbalance of adults and children cannot be sustained budget-wise. We were losing ground financially and eventually attendance. Attendance quickly dropped to about 170. Basically, we were having problems we didn’t know how to solve.
The First Contact
We had heard that a pastor in Gary, Indiana (not Pastor Goode) was looking to make a change. So we dispatched two couples to go to Gary to make contact with him—check him out, so to speak. When they got there they learned that he had already resigned the Gary church and had taken a position elsewhere. Discouraged, the search team decided to go hear Pastor Goode whom we knew was doing biblical counseling in Valparaiso, Indiana. Upon their return they were very excited about Pastor Goode and insisted that I contact him. I didn’t have any reason to think he might be looking for a change, but I called him anyway.
Surprisingly, he was gracious and patiently heard me out. I told him about our history and present situation. Particularly that we were in trouble. After listening to me he suggested that he and Mildred have lunch with me and whoever I thought should be present in Lafayette. Expecting to be told he had no interest, his response gave a glimmer of hope. So Pastor Goode and Mildred met with Dave Worrell, who also was a deacon, and me at the Mr. Steak Restaurant formerly on Sagamore Parkway.
That was a meeting to remember. Pastor Goode outlined a ministry that was foreign to Dave and me. As he talked, I would glance at Dave and Dave would glance at me. Pastor Goode was describing a ministry where problems get solved. Our mutual glances told Dave and me that we both were getting it. We needed what Pastor Goode was describing. I would have said “offering”, but that would have been premature. We chose a Sunday where he would just “fill the pulpit.” “Fill the pulpit” is a term used so neither a pastor or a church would be committed to any further contact.
You may have heard what his first sermon was about—right, church discipline. We (our leaders and congregation) were blown away. We had never heard of such a thing…even though it was right there in Matthew chapter 18 staring us in the face all the time. How could we and most, if not all, small GARBC churches with which we were acquainted have missed it?
Pastor Goode’s name was then presented to the church to actually ask him to candidate for the position. Now we each would get some indication of Pastor Goode’s real interest. Thankfully, he said he would allow us to consider him. We set a date.
On both the times he filled the pulpit and candidated, he and Mildred would stay with my wife, Rita, and me on Sunday night and go back to Gary on Monday morning.
He preached twice on the Sunday he candidated. So he and Mildred came to our house after the evening service. We were having some refreshments when he asked me how I thought it went. I was hoping he wouldn’t ask that question. But I answered honestly, I was afraid the congregation would not think he was evangelistic enough. I know, I know. “Jerry, REALLY?” Yes, really.
The next day at breakfast Pastor Goode told us that he had not slept any the night before. He tossed and turned so much he was afraid he was keeping Mildred awake so he spent the rest of the night on the floor. I felt awful. I could have sat on the edge of a carpet and dangled my feet.
Thankfully, Pastor Goode knew by this time that I was very much in his corner. During our breakfast conversation Pastor Goode suggested that he return the coming Wednesday and preach again and after his message open it up for question & answers. I say that this was Pastor Goode’s suggestion. I actually don’t remember who suggested it, but since it was so brilliant it could not possibly have been me.
I will never forget that Wednesday night service. After Pastor Goode finished his message, took his jacket off, loosened his tie, unbuttoned his collar, rolled up his sleeves, and took up a handheld microphone. It had a long cord that allow him to go up and down the entire aisle (no cordless mics yet). The congregation took right to the task asking wonderful questions (I was so proud of them) and Pastor Goode was in his element. He gave us answers even more wonderful. I was so excited.
That night, again having refreshments at our house, I told him that he had “sold” (not the best term when referring to a pastor) himself. I told him the vote we would take the next Wednesday would be unanimous or very close to it. I was correct—he got all but one vote. Later, after he began his ministry at Faith and we got to know each other better, several of us claimed to be the one vote he didn’t get. He had a great sense of humor.
Well, I’m sure that those of you who never had the joy of knowing Pastor “Bill” Goode can understand why those of us who did cherish him as we do. We continually praise God for bringing him to us. His legacy and the foundation he laid lives on through the wonderful stable of Pastors he put in place and a congregation to carry on the principles of biblical counseling and Matthew 18. I suspect even Pastor Goode could not have contemplated what God would eventually do at Faith…I know I didn’t.
“To God be the glory, great things he hath done.”