When Clay Davis retired after serving in active duty as an Army chaplain, he knew God was tugging on his heart to do something in particular.
“I had been away from home for 30 years,” he said, noting that home for him was Sweet Water Baptist Church in Bethel Baptist Association.
A lot of things had changed in that time, but one thing hadn’t — there were a number of congregations in the area that struggled to find pastors.
“I really have a heart for rural churches, having grown up in a rural area and pastored in rural areas,” Davis said. “These are faithful Southern Baptist churches that give faithfully and love their churches but often struggle to attract pastoral leadership to their rural area.”
So after he got back to Alabama in early 2019, one of the first things he did was attend a transitional pastor training at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. Then in August of 2019, he began serving as transitional pastor for Sweet Water Baptist.
Looking to future
Mike Snow, director of missions for Bethel Association, said the idea of a transitional pastor is to intentionally guide a church to prepare for the next season. Where some churches might choose to have different supply preachers fill the pulpit or a consistent interim pastor lead the church, a transitional pastor is trained to guide them on a journey to the next phase of church life.
Davis is doing “a really great job” where God has placed him, Snow said.
In July, Davis started a new role as interim pastor of nearby Friendship Baptist Church, Thomasville, and they’re beginning their journey of learning what God has next.
“They were eager to have some leadership in reenergizing as far as a focus on missions,” he said.
So far, part of that has been celebrating Christ through Advent, focusing on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and international missions, and establishing a social media presence.
“It’s been fun,” Davis said. “It’s a great group, and we’ve found some new outreach opportunities already.”