Phil Christopher Retiring From FBC in September

Dr. Phil Christopher, senior pastor of First Baptist Church since 1995, announced his retirement Sunday, June 13, during the morning worship service. His retirement is effective Sept. 26 of this year. The following letter was posted after the service.

Dr. Phil Christopher
Some things don’t change…. An article about First Baptist Abilene in the 1954 Abilene Reporter News was titled “An evangelistic, progressive, and pioneering church….” And we still are….

Dear Church Family of First Baptist, Abilene,
Last week, the text for the message was, “I thank my God in every remembrance of you.” It is hard to put into words the gratitude I feel for you. I remember the many ways you have blessed and loved me and my family over these twenty-six years. We have shared so much together, bringing tears of joy from those gracious memories. Thank you for loving us for over a quarter of a century.
I remember the ways we have shared the journey of faith as the Body of Christ. We cried together, laughed together, worshiped together, celebrated together, but in so many ways, we grew together to be the church God called us to be. I remember all we have accomplished together from the day we dedicated City Light Community Ministries to that Palm Sunday in 2006 when we walked from the Family Life Center to the renovated sanctuary.
As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for every thing and an appointed time for every activity.”  This morning in worship, I announced my retirement as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Abilene, effective September 26 of this year. It is time…. This decision came from a long journey of prayer as Mary and I prayed about what was best for our family and the church. 
The issues related to COVID-19 were some of my most challenging times in ministry, but they did not play a part of this decision to retire. In fact, COVID-19 postponed this decision as I chose to shepherd us through this time of chaos and change. I believe now is the time to turn the page and write a new and exciting chapter for First Baptist, Abilene as you look to the future of calling a new Senior Pastor.
Be assured, during this time of transition our church Constitution and Bylaws and Personnel Committee are in place to give direction to this process. You will be informed and have a voice in how the church moves through this pastoral transition. Also, our gifted staff will continue to provide leadership and care during the interim. 
During these months, I will continue to devote my energy to supporting our staff, providing pastoral care, lavishing you with love, and preaching a gospel of hope that God will continue to guide this great church. I encourage you to come back to Bible study and worship as you look to the future. We need you here because under God’s guiding, you will play such a crucial role in calling a new Senior Pastor.
I invite you to pray daily for holy discernment as our church looks to what God will do beyond what we can imagine. I think of the words of the poet, “The best is yet to be.”  Trust the words of Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you a hope and a future.”
For all that has been, “Thanks,” For all that will be, “Yes!”


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