Pastors meet to celebrate God

BY CINDY CARTER, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Pastors from all over the Tampa Bay area joined together last month at Suncoast Hospice, located at 3050 1st Ave. S., to not only praise the Lord, but to enjoy a spectacular dinner in their honor.

“I want to encourage you to get up out of your seat and network, meet the other people here,” said CEO of Ministry Event Marketing Nicole “CoCo” Phillip. She hopes to make the appreciation dinner an annual tradition and believes building relationships within the community will strengthen bonds and bring help to those in need. “When all else fails if you have a relationship you have access.”

Pastors and family traveled in the rain for the event. Most hailed from St. Petersburg and Tampa, but some made the long trip from Bradenton. “We know when we have leaders in the house and it sets the stage for you to do miracles and wonders,” said Phillip.

One-by-one Phillip named off the sponsors and short tidbits about the services they offer. Mark Baker with 4MYCAUSE.US has come up with a program that promises to bless ministries. And the great part about it? It’s free.

He has created a loyalty card program for churches to use as a fundraising tool. These cards are distributed to church members, neighbors, family and friends. Each time a card is used at participating merchants, money is set aside for the congregation.

“We come from different places,” said Baker who believes even though there are many congregations, every one serves under one church. “We may look different, talk different, have different ideas, but we serve one God.”

Next on the list was Re:Member, a pictorial church directory created just for ministries at no charge. If you want to collect names, phone numbers and provide a resource back to your members, they have digital and print directories available. Dinner guests were provided with pamphlets and a gift bag filled with more information.

An organizer of the dinner was India Nicole Welch, who tragically passed away in a car accident just days after the event. Welch has been described throughout the community as an up and coming inspirational artist and motivational speaker. She released her first book, “Goodbye Fear, Hello Victory!” back in December.  “Talk about someone who has the heart of the Lord,” said Phillip. “That sister, she’s such a giving person.”

The evenings keynote speaker was described as food for the soul, and a man who lives and breathes God. Pastor Jermaine Gordon confidently took control of the room. He touched on the recent killings in Tennessee before hitting visiting pastors with some truths.

“Pastors are some of the most misunderstood people in this world,” Gordon proclaimed. “We try to see who looks the best, who smells the best, but let the truth be told, sometimes we as pastors are the most messed up people in the entire church.”

For Gordon it’s all about recognizing that men and women of the cloth are people too with the same old issues as everyone else. The only difference in Gordon’s eyes is that there is an unspoken rule that says it all has to be kept to oneself. You can’t share, but they’re all coming and dumping their problems all on you.”

He feels in order to fully understand your calling and minister properly, a pastor has to make a complete mess of their own life. To be relatable to the congregation members who walk through their doors.

Gordon has served as a senior pastor of St. James Baptist Church in Bushnell. It is noted as one of the fastest growing ministries in Central Florida. Perhaps it’s due to his willingness to speak on the unspeakable topics.

“You better be careful who you call your sounding board,” warned Gordon revealing that sometimes a preacher’s worst enemy is another preacher. “All of us got a little hater in us somewhere.”

He brought up the big churches and warned against those in charge of smaller ministries from putting too much emphasis in comparing the two. “We have to understand that God did not call us all to be in mega ministries,” he said citing there is a difference between a mega church and a mega ministry. “You may have a mega ministry in you, but your church may not be; you’re still touching people.”

Gordon went on to discuss positions in the church, warning pastors on hiring based on a popularity contest, or whom you’re chummy with. Instead he suggests picking people based on their specialties and gifts, but also if they are right for the church setting.

“Just because they’re a school teacher doesn’t mean that they should be a Sunday school teacher,” he said.

It took Gordon awhile to get to the point where he could speak his mind freely and feel he was making a difference in the church. He instructs that what works in one area one time, may not be beneficial under different circumstances or in different demographic.

He encouraged his fellow men and women of the cloth to take care of their mind, body and soul. To eat healthy, think healthy and know their limits.

“I had to take the ‘S’ off my chest and understand that everything that they teach you in seminary is not going to work,” he said. Gordon believes God sent everyone here for a reason and that pastors, although at times needing to carry heavy loads, have to realize they are not Jesus. “The more that you understand that, then you have freed yourself from the bondage of trying to do everything.”

The evening was rounded off with a hearty dinner of chicken, meatloaf, yellow rice, and vegetables while pastors from all around the Bay Area enjoyed prayer and inspirational songs.

Ministry Event Marketing creates Inspiring brand messaging, and makes community outreach simple. They also offer full service printing and website and graphic design services. To learn more about Ministry Event Marketing, please log on to ministryeventmarketing.com.

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