Pastor Jones was a fine pastor, serving at the St. John Baptist Church, for more than 20 years. He started as an associate minister, under the Pastor Horace Manning, who trained and molded, not only Pastor Jones, but two other prominent pastors in town.
When Pastor Manning fell ill, there was no doubt who he wanted to replace him. Rudy Jones had been his closest aide. If Pastor Manning was there, then “Rev. Rudy”, would not be far behind. There was rarely a service held at St. John, when the young Rev. Rudolph Leviticus Jones was not seated at the right hand of his mentor. Though he dwarfed Pastor Manning in physical stature, Rev. Jones always felt tiny in his presence. His booming voice and fiery preaching made him seem half a foot taller than he actually was.
The officers wanted to hire someone with more experience or education, but Pastor Manning, from his sickbed, told them that Jones was the man for the job. His exact words were “He loves the Lord. He loves the church, and he loves the people of St. John. That’s enough.” The officers knew they could not argue those points.
Now, it was time for Pastor Jones to train someone to take his place. He had promised his wife, Annabelle, that he was going to retire at age 65, “like normal folks”, he often said. Just weeks away from his sixtieth birthday, he knew it was time to get started on finding a replacement. He didn’t want to die in the pulpit, leaving promises to his family unfulfilled. He and Annabelle had four children and 7 grandchildren. He had promised the grandkids camping trips and amusement park rides, as soon as he could slip away from “official church business.”
He did not want to leave his church unprepared. He had seen the turmoil that nearly split the church when Pastor Manning went home to be with the Lord. Pastor Jones was not sure the church could withstand another battle like that. He wanted to make sure the church continued in the path that Pastor Manning had started. So he would have to practically hand-pick his successor, and if he could (the Lord willing), he wanted to personally train him and prepare him for some of the perils of the pastorate at St. John.
Officially, the Pastor Search Committee would be responsible for choosing the next pastor, but Rudy Jones was not one to leave things to chance, or to other people.