On Sunday, Dec 16th in the morning service, Pastor Wingate announced his "retirement." Many who could not be in attendance have asked for a transcript of what was said. So everyone is one the same page, here is what was given:
As you are aware, 8 � years ago I had a heart attack and by-pass surgery. Last spring, I had more damage done to my heart.
For a year Sydney and I have been praying about what my role in the ministry of Calvary should be.
After consultation with my doctor, my wife and my boys we made the decision in September that we felt it was time to begin the transition for a new lead pastor of Calvary.
I believe our greatest days are ahead and it is not that I don't want to lead Calvary but I just don't believe I am able to do what is needed. I am not leaving but will eventual be assuming a diminished role. I no longer have the strength or stamina to continue in the capacity that I now assume.
When God leads us to the man of His choice I will then step back and help in the transitional period until He feels ready at which time I will assume a minor role in Calvary. When that happens, I would love to be involved in a day or two a week to visit, to mentor and be a help wherever I can in ministry. Until then, I will be here doing what I am doing now.
It may take several months to accomplish that goal and I will continue be the pastor through this transition. We have a great pastoral staff and as we look outside of our ministry for the next pastor, they will be a tremendous support.
God called me to preach when I was 12 years old. He led me into the pastorate when I was 21. I have pastored for 45 years and though I may not pastor all my life, I do plan to preach until I die. This will allow me to preach when opportunities arise without the stress of day to day ministry. As I was asked, "If you were sidelined by another heart attack, what good would you be in any ministry?"
God has given Sydney and me Psalm 16:5-9, 11.
This is a time that God will use to bring the church together in a wonderful way. It is not a time to "move on" but a time to unite. Your faithfulness should not be to Ralph Wingate, but to Calvary Baptist however first and foremost to the Lord. This is His church and He has placed you here for a reason, now we need you more than ever as we continue His work. The next pastor will have new ways and new ideas but the 7 most deadly words in a church are:"We never did it this way before."
It is a time for new vision and although I will not lead it I will be here to help and then thank the Lord for what He continues to do through Calvary.
Thank you for the 30 years you have allowed me to be your pastor. For some, I have been the only pastor you have ever known, for others I have been your pastor longer than any other man. We have laughed together, cried together, prayed together and rejoiced together, may we continue to do so.
And in my fashion, Okay, pastor, what can we learn from this? God is still God, God has been good, God will provide, and it is still all about Him.
Pastor Ralph Wingate