West Virginia association finding, preparing preachers through free training

MOUNSDVILLE, W.Va. (BP) –Shane Henderson’s life is pretty busy.

Shane Henderson, in maroon shirt and cap and standing beside Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, works a 2019 Steelers game as kicking ball coordinator prior to being moved to game clock operator this season. Henderson is pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Hollansbee, W.Va.

A husband and father of two, the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Hollansbee, W.Va. works during the day managing a waste water facility. Weekends are full as a football referee, with Friday nights at a field somewhere in West Virginia or Ohio. Saturdays are covered officiating a Division II or Division III matchup. When the Pittsburgh Steelers have a home game, Henderson is working as the game clock operator on Sunday.

Henderson felt a call to ministry, but the timeline moved up unexpectedly in February with the death of his longtime friend and mentor Dick Ryan, who was then Lighthouse’s pastor. His church needed someone to step up and Henderson did that. But, he recognized he needed help.

“I had ‘speaking’ experience and knew what Scripture meant to me, but I knew that in order to serve God and the congregation fully, I needed more instruction,” he said. “God knew that and sent Brother Chuck Morrow. He has been there for me so much since February with love, support and encouragement.”

Morrow, director of missions for the Upper Ohio Valley Baptist Association (UOVBA), also helped Henderson and others through establishing a series of classes this summer designed for pastors and lay leaders to develop skills for leading churches or presenting a sermon.

The association’s shape resembles that of Israel, spiking northward out of West Virginia with Ohio lying across the river sharing its name to the west and Pennsylvania in the east. And just as an itinerant preacher who revealed himself as the Son of God did in Israel thousands of years ago, today the UOVBA is identifying and raising up others to preach a Gospel of salvation and hope.

In September, four men completed the inaugural Certificate for Biblical Teaching and Preaching with a Preaching and Teaching Summit at the associational offices in Moundsville, W.Va. It was the culmination of instruction that began in May and included online as well as in-person instruction delivered by local church leaders as well as West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists Executive Director-Treasurer Eric Ramsey and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin.

“This was for men who have experienced a call into the ministry, looking at a call to the pulpit or want to be more active in iron sharpening iron,” Morrow said. Like other areas around the nation, many churches in his area without a pastor stand in need of pulpit supply. This training provides the confidence in studying as well as presenting Scripture, with book fees being the only cost.

Morrow added that his heart for education and providing training stems from the start of his 18 years in ministry.

“I didn’t experience a lot of mentoring growing up and feel I could have benefitted from it,” he said. “So, I prayed about it a lot and this was the result.”

Roy Polmanteer moved to the area after 20 years with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona because he was “looking for a place to retire that had four seasons and hunting and fishing.”

His sense of service led him to becoming a volunteer, then leader, for disaster relief. Polmanteer also was part of the pastor search team at First Baptist in Chester, where he learned of the need for more preachers or others equipped to deliver a sermon.

“I was talking with Chuck about it and said that interim ministry was something we’d need to consider. At that time, he was putting the certificate course together,” Polmanteer said.

Churches without a pastor need to be focused on finding one, he said. If he could help out by filling in as an interim, then he wanted to be able to “present God’s Word in a correct, biblical manner.”

Three six-hour, in-person sessions took place in May, July and September, accompanied by a 10-session free online course through Southeastern Seminary. Personal study and reading through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 was also included. Classes included expository study and preaching, interpreting and teaching the Bible, an introduction to hermeneutics and sermon preparation.

Allen Ferris serves as associate pastor of Victory Baptist Chapel in St. Clairsville, Ohio, one of the congregations in the association located in that state (another one is in Pennsylvania). A talker who never shies from a debate, Ferris had taken part in several ministry-related online courses through various groups before learning about the UOVBA certificate.

“It helped me out tremendously,” he said. “I learned how to create expository sermons and interpret Scripture within the context and relate it to modern times. It taught how the Bible is about God, not me, and his Word is going to be the driving force in my sermons.”

Ferris leads the student ministry at Victory Chapel alongside his wife, Susan. On Sundays where he’s preaching elsewhere, a deacon typically fills in for those responsibilities.

He said an introduction to hermeneutics taught by Ramsey, West Virginia’s executive director-treasurer, was invaluable.

“We learned how the author’s intentions with the Scripture is what matters, not ours. It’s our job to discover the author’s message,” he said.

When Henderson learned of the course and its requirements, he knew the effort required would be worth it.

“It was challenging, but I knew the blessing on the other side would be so much greater,” he said. Others fill in for him on days when work takes him to Heinz Field in Pittsburg.

A commitment toward delivering God’s Word requires a commitment to learning it, Ferris said.

“It’s well worth the time,” he said. “You can’t get this type of information and experience on your own, aside from a full-fledged seminary. I’m so thankful for Chuck getting this together.”

Cutline: Shane Henderson, in maroon shirt and cap, works a Steelers game as Kicking Ball coordinator prior to being moved to game clock operator this season. Henderson is pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Hollansbee, W. Va.

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