First Baptist youth leader steps up as new pastorPublished 12:09am Sunday, September 8, 2013
For the past 15 years, Eric Barnes has led the children and youth ministries of the First Baptist Church of Ironton. Now, he will also lead the adults as the church’s newest pastor.
Barnes, 42, took the helm as pastor just a few weeks ago, taking over for Pastor Dennis Strawn, who led the church for more than 20 years.
A search committee voted Barnes in as pastor, he said, but the congregation had become acquainted with Barnes’ preaching style over the past five months as he filled in after Strawn’s departure. Barnes also took over with funerals, visitations and the adult ministry programs.
Barnes has hit the ground running as pastor, but said in his younger years, he was not always one to stand in front of a crowd.
“I grew up in sports,” Barnes said. “I was not a speaker.”
Barnes felt a connection with God from and early age, he said, becoming saved at age 12 while attending Central Christian Church with his family.
Over the next 10 years, Barnes began to pursue God’s call even more.
“When I was 22 years old, I told God, ‘I’ll always say yes to you,’” Barnes said.
He attended Kentucky Christian College and was led into mission work in Australia, where he was thrust into a leadership role.
After returning from abroad, he worked at his alma mater for three years before taking the youth pastor job at First Baptist.
Now, as pastor of the entire congregation, Barnes said he has no plans to make any major changes to the way things have been done, unless God leads him to.
“I am following God’s lead,” he said. “I don’t plan anything on my own.”
Barnes said his mission as pastor is to preach about the magnitude and greatness of God and draw others to him.
Barnes says he and his wife, Amy, also lead by example at home with their nine children, praying publicly and reading the Bible.
“I live out my faith on a daily basis so they see that truth alive in me,” Barnes said.
First Baptist is located at 304 S. Fifth St., Ironton. Sunday morning services are from 9:45 to 11 a.m. Wednesday services begin at 7 p.m.