Decaturís Central pastoral team follows fathersí footstepscomment (0)
June 2, 2011
By Martine Bates Sharp
Vroom! The sound of the motorcycle entering the fellowship hall was a surprise to the people attending the Valentine’s banquet. The fact that their pastor was driving it was not as surprising. The people of Central Baptist Church, Decatur, have learned to expect the unexpected from their pastoral team.
Senior Pastor Rob Jackson and Associate Pastor Bryan Blass are comfortable being on the “cutting edge;” they grew up with parents who did the unexpected — parents who also served on the same church staff when Jackson and Blass were children.
Jackson was 10 when his father, Robert “Bob” Jackson, was called as pastor of First Baptist Church, Monroeville.
Twelve-year-old Blass’ father, A.B. Blass, was the church’s minister of music. His mother, Saranne, played the piano, and Jackson’s mother, Gail, taught Sunday School.
The parents worked closely together, and the sons became fast friends.
Blass pointed out that their parents were ahead of their time. “They used synchronized lights and tape tracks for our youth choir back then.”
Jackson agreed. “Everything they did was cutting edge. Now we try to constantly do cutting edge things to reach people for the Lord.”
Both men believe that their current relationship was in the works even when they were children.
“There are no accidents,” Jackson said. “God knew even when we were riding minibikes together and Bryan’s dad was teaching me to water ski. It’s exciting.”
He and Blass were close both inside and outside the church, spending time visiting in each other’s homes.
Each was heavily influenced by the other’s family. Blass’ father led the youth ensemble, and both he and Jackson sang in it.
“Bryan’s dad was one of the most Christlike gentlemen I’ve known,” Jackson recalled. “We had one of the best choirs around. He taught me to appreciate music and trained me in parts. I can still pick up parts because of what he taught me.”
Blass was impacted in many ways by Jackson’s father but particularly by his work ethic. First, Monroeville, had three vans named Faith, Hope and Love. Jackson’s father drove Faith on choir trips, while Blass’ father drove Love. Often while the choir performed, Blass noted that Jackson’s father would slip out to the van to work on his sermon.
Blass remembers spending the night at the Jackson house and listening to Bob Jackson prepare his sermon for the following day.
“On Saturday nights, he was up most of the night, preaching to the grandfather clock,” Blass said.
Blass did not receive a call to preach until he was an adult though he felt a call to Christian service at an early age.
“I thought at first that I was called to be a Christian doctor,” Blass said.
“I can trace my call back to sixth grade during VBS (Vacation Bible School) at a service led by Rob’s dad.”
Blass was a deacon at Central Baptist when he first publically acknowledged a call to preach in 1996 while visiting First, Monroeville, on Easter.
That same year, Blass, who was working as a sales representative, began attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary extension in Birmingham, where he earned a master of divinity. He served New Home Baptist Church, Titus, and First Baptist Church, Gadsden, as pastor before returning to Central earlier this year.
Jackson was a pharmacist before answering the call to ministry. He earned a master of divinity and doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and served as associate pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church, Frankfort, Ky., and evangelism associate for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions before being called as Central’s pastor in 2003.
The two men acknowledge the benefits of having known each other since they were children.
“The trust was already there,” Jackson said. “And the knowledge. We each understand how the other operates. I run out there and Bryan works on the details. God sent Bryan here to shore up areas of need, so we can reach more people.”
Blass summed up the present situation in a prayer: “As you have reunited us to serve together at this time, we acknowledge that this does not catch you by surprise. You have been weaving a tapestry of ministry and service throughout our lives, as we have both been blessed by Christian parents and grandparents. We stand on their shoulders and others whom you have allowed in our path over the years as we now have the honor and privilege of serving Jesus Christ here at Central.”