Pastor retires after serving the congregation at Union for 34 years

Published 10:13 am Monday, August 6, 2012


CHESAPEAKE — Union Missionary Baptist Church of Chesapeake is honoring Pastor Robert L. Barbour who is retiring after 34 years of ministry.

A retirement/farewell event will be held on Aug. 12 at the church. Friends in the Tri-State are invited to hear Pastor Barbour’s official final sermon Sunday morning, at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 12.

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At 3 p.m. a fun-loving tribute is planned followed by refreshments. A time of honoring God’s word and his servants, Bob and Phyllis Barbour, will begin at 5:15 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Everyone is welcome to share in this celebration.

Robert Lee (Bob) Barbour was born in 1936 in Huntington, W.Va. He began his ministry as pastor of Union Missionary Baptist Church in 1978.

This was his first and only pastorate. Previously he had served in several other ministry positions including minister of music, director of Youth for Christ, and working with college students with the Navigators. He was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Marshall University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

He is married to the former Phyllis Chaffin and they have one son, Robert McCheyne Barbour, who is currently on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.

Barbour has the distinction of being the longest serving pastor of Union Missionary Baptist Church since its founding in 1843.

He has served as its pastor for thirty-four years. Barbour and his wife Phyllis came to Union in the spring of 1977 after he had resigned as minister of music at Seventh Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington.

The following September they joined Union and Barbour was asked to teach the young adult sunday school class there. In the spring of 1978 the pastor, Arch Rutherford, felt the call to another church and approached Barbour with the idea of his taking the pastorate of Union. After much prayer, counsel, and soul searching, Bob Barbour agreed to have his name submitted as a candidate for pastor of the church.

He was voted in unanimously as pastor on April 22, 1978 and was ordained May 7, 1978. Because of this quick transition, Union was not without a pastor for even one Sunday. During Barbour’s long tenure many changes gradually occurred at the church. Union grew numerically causing the need for expansion.

Two building programs were launched under his ministry. The location of the church moved from its original site to one quarter of a mile farther along State Route 243 in 1984.

Then, in late 1999, the church completed the addition of a new building to the site to accommodate further growth. The church covenant was revised. A more extensive doctrinal statement and a written statement of discipline were included.

A mission statement for the church was also drawn up: “Reaching the lost, teaching the saved, caring for one another.” Barbour made two trips abroad during his ministry at Union. The first trip was in 1990 on a tour of Jerusalem and related sites conducted by Dr. Paul Bauman.

That tour was an exciting and enriching experience. Then in 1995, Barbour went with the mission organization World Help to the countries of Russia, Romania, and Hungary.

While there, he preached at The Central Baptist Church of Moscow, the Second Baptist Church of Romania in Oradea, and also in several village churches in Russia and Romania. This trip was a new opportunity for Barbour to share the Word of God in foreign countries.

In addition to his duties as pastor of Union, Barbour began teaching courses at Tri State Bible College in 2007. There, he has helped to train lay people and better equip area lay ministers for the work of the ministry.

Pastor Bob Barbour’s pulpit ministry has been marked by strong expository preaching and a free grace message. Throughout his long ministry as pastor he shepherded the flock at Union Missionary Baptist Church by feeding them from God’s Word, caring for their spiritual needs and leading them to greater devotion and service to Christ and His Church.

He truly was an example of 1 Peter 5:2,3, which says, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion buy willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” Pastor Barbour’s wife, Phyllis, has been instrumental in women’s and children’s ministries. She faithfully studied and led a ladies’ Bible Study for many years. Phyllis has also taught a children’s Sunday School class and was an AWANA leader.

Her quiet and gentle spirit has been a shining example of a pastor’s wife and has blessed the congregation. Pastor Bob and Phyllis are embarking on a new and exciting chapter in their lives. They have recently become grandparents to Jack Robert Barbour, son of Bobby and Jody.

They plan to move to Indianapolis in the near future and begin their new roles as grandparents. Yet, this is not the end of their ministry but the beginning as God leads them to serve Him.