Following God’s leading.
For the past 11 years, Pastor D. Paul Williamson has faithfully led the flock at the Honesdale Gospel Tabernacle.
Following God’s leading.
For the past 11 years, Pastor D. Paul Williamson has faithfully led the flock at the Honesdale Gospel Tabernacle. He’s come to care deeply for the congregation and community. “We’re leaving a ministry that’s been very dear to our hearts for 11 years,” he says, of he and his wife, Helen, calling his time in Honesdale “a rich blessing.” But sensitive to God’s call on his life, the 57-year-old, 35-year pastor, has felt his Savior leading in a different direction.
He’s accepted the director’s position at Rocky Mountain Bible Church Mission, serving Colorado and Utah. His final service in Honesdale will be January 25. Assistant Pastor Sal Santoli of Honesdale will help in the transition. Pastor Dr. Richard Gregory, formerly of Honesdale, is due to arrive from Florida with his wife, Carol, to serve as interim pastor until a new pastor is in place.
Church planting mission
This past June, Pastor Williamson attended the annual IFCA International church convention in Oregon. IFCA International is “a fellowship of independent Bible-believing churches and pastors. “Their theme was Vision America, which is a church planting effort through the IFCA churches and pastors,” he said. Church planting is the process of planning a new church in a community where there isn’t one. That’s when he learned that the Rocky Mountain Bible Church Mission, which serves Colorado and Utah, was without a director.
He prayerfully sought God’s guidance. “Lord how do want to use me in Vision America?” His answer came in the form of a job offer — one he prayerfully accepted.
And the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. Though they’ll be house hunting when they arrive in Denver, Colorado, they’ve already sent their furniture on ahead, in storage. “We’re moving to Colorado the end of January,” he says.
He talks of God’s provision in the selling of their Honesdale home. “I was concerned it would take three to six months to sell the house. And God has miraculously done that in a day. Our house was on the market for about 28 hours,” he says, when it sold. The listing started Thursday morning. The first couple to view it Friday, bought it. “I share that not because of the fact that this couple bought it. It’s just the fact that God was confirming to me, ‘I can care for the details,’” he said. “It’s just one of those moments of God’s intervention in your life. I readily acknowledge and give God the glory. But it was a confirmation to us — this is right. ‘You can follow me in this .’”
Fewer churches opening
Why start new churches when others are closing? “There are between 3,000 and 4,000 churches closing every year (of all faiths) ...Church planting, new churches are only opening at about 1,200-1,300 a year. So, we are quickly losing the number of churches that are available to reach the populous of the United States ...Back in the 1950’s-1960’s, there were 27 churches for every 10,000 people. Today we’re down to about 12 to 13 churches for every 10,000 people,” he said.
“Studies have shown, that in a given community, for instance Honesdale itself, if every seat available in the churches in that community were filled on a Sunday morning, it would still not be adequate to hold the communities, as far as if everybody wanted to attend church.
“In church planting, our goal is to look at communities where there is a lack of Bible teaching and preaching churches, where the gospel witness is not readily available through a local church ministry,” he said.
“In the state of Colorado, there’s a population of a little over 4,665,000. If statistics are correct, probably 50 to 60 percent of that population is unchurched, meaning they don’t go to a church anywhere at all, of any kind. In church planting, that’s basically our target area,” he said, reaching the unchurched for Christ.
“The delight of my life, or joy, has been to serve God in the church of Jesus Christ in the Honesdale area for 11 years. The vision for my future is to multiply this ministry in church planting. I’ve told the congregation here, my desire is to plant churches like the Tabernacle in the Rocky Mountain region. And when I say “like the Tabernacle,” independent, Bible-believing churches committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of God.
Prior to serving at the Honesdale Gospel Tabernacle, Pastor Williamson served Trinity Community Church in Indiana for six or seven years and nearly nine years at Factoryville Bible Church in Michigan. He’s originally from Montana. The Williamsons have four grown children and seven grandchildren.