Shaw to retire after 35 years at FBC Pelhamcomment (0)
May 29, 2014
By Sondra Washington
When Mike Shaw became pastor of First Baptist Church, Pelham, in 1979, he hoped God would allow him to stay at least five years with the Shelby Baptist Association church. Previously the appointments he held before and immediately after earning a doctor of ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary lasted no more than three years. God answered Shaw’s prayers and exceeded his expectations.
On May 31, Shaw will retire from First, Pelham, after serving 35 years as the church pastor, a responsibility that he considers an honor.
“This was all because of God,” said Shaw, who also is the immediate past president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. “[God] has been faithful to me even when I have failed Him. ... The fact that I’ve been able to stay here for 35 years is more of a tribute to these people than to me. They have been longsuffering and I love them. They are my family.”
Shaw attributes his longevity at First, Pelham, to his personal devotional time with God. “I have a time every day that I spend with God, and I seek God, not just to give me a word to speak to someone but for a word for me,” he said. “It’s especially during the bad times that you have to keep those up.”
Shaw also believes his strong support system has assisted him through the years. “My wife [Mary] and I are partners in ministry. She loves me and she prays for me. When times are tough, we stick together,” he said. “I’ve also had wonderful support from my children, mother and daddy and in-laws, and the people of this church have been supportive.”
The feelings are mutual between Shaw and his congregation.
Pat MacKay, Shaw’s ministry assistant for nearly 18 years, said, “It has been a joy and a privilege (to serve with the Shaws).
“Normally a church has a good pastor or a good preacher. Brother Mike is both. It’s a very rare combination,” she said. “As for Mary Shaw [who is also the church pianist], her love for the people is outstanding. ... They’re a terrific team.”
Willard C. Payne, chairman of the board of trustees at First, Pelham, said, “I was on the search committee that [selected Bro. Mike]. ... He has been my rock in gaining additional knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. His love for me and other members has been demonstrated by him in so many different ways.”
Looking to the future
Shaw is thankful to have watched the church grow in physical size and number through the years, and he is proud that it now looks “more like heaven than it ever has” and includes people from various ethnic groups.
“This is going to be a new era for us and for the church,” he said. “I’m excited for them and, to be honest, I’m excited for me. I’m excited for ... whoever the new pastor is. I’ll be his biggest supporter and closest friend if he will let me, and he will be my pastor, my spiritual guide, because that’s what a pastor does.”
Hugh Richardson, director of missions for Shelby Baptist Association, said, “In the 35 years that [Mike Shaw has] been here, he has been a faithful gospel minister and he has carried out his ministry with a sense of humor and with love. He has been Kingdom-minded in his approach, and he’s given leadership and wisdom to a multitude of activities.”
On Father’s Day, Shaw will baptize his oldest granddaughter at Blooming Grove Baptist Church, Jasper, and it will be a special occasion for his entire family.
“In 1984, my father died the day before Father’s Day,” he said. “The next year, our younger son had made his profession of faith, and I was baptizing him in 1985. So here in 2014, 30 years later, I’m going to be baptizing my granddaughter, his [Shaw’s father’s] great-granddaughter. She was the first girl born into the Shaw family for over 100 years.”
Less than a year ago, the Shaw family welcomed another girl, and Shaw eagerly anticipates spending more time with her and the rest of his family in retirement.