Bob Gibbs has been pastor at St Andrew’s United Methodist Church since July 2007. His last Sunday is on Father’s Day, Sunday June 17.
On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17, Reverend Bob Gibbs will say goodbye to St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Brandon after five years of service.
Gibbs, 63, is slated to move to Tallahassee as superintendent of the Methodist North West District, one of nine in the Florida Annual Conference.
“I got the call in January,” Gibbs said. “Bishop Whitaker said, ‘I need to know your retirement plans because what I’m going to ask you to do is going to need a commitment of four years.’”
Gibbs will shift from pastoring suburban congregations to administering 85 churches and missions in a triangle from the Apalachicola River to Lake City and Cedar Key.
During his five years at St. Andrew’s Gibbs witnessed an enthusiastic response to the congregation’s re-visioning initiative.
“We committed to ‘Loving Christ, serving others, and making a difference,’” Gibbs said. “I had so much joy seeing young families responding to ministry, the strong children’s and youth ministry and, right alongside that, the mission emphasis.”
For the future, Gibbs said the recent church wide “Change the World” study is providing focus and impetus.
“It’s a bold statement of mission,” he said. “Talking about how churches need to be more outreaching than ingathering, spending more emphasis and money on others than ourselves.”
Gibbs is optimistic for St. Andrew’s. “We’re positioned well; I think St Andrew’s is in great shape,” he said. “We’re seeing a little bit of an upturn in attendance (averaging 800 in three services) and working to make worship more personal and lively.”
Challenges, Gibbs said, involve a more deliberate commitment to justice, a strengthening of financial stewardship and a continuous awareness on reaching out and mission.
“Suburban society has moved out away from the problems,” he said. “To bring folk, through their faith, back to the problems can be a challenge.”
Gibbs said he will miss the energy generated by Brandon’s young families.
“However,” he cautioned, “as friendly as Brandon is in many ways, we need to be more so; to think of ourselves as inclusive of all people; not so afraid that we’re fencing and gating and walling ourselves in.”
For information on St Andrew’s, located at 3315 Bryan Rd. in Brandon, call 689-6849 or visit www.standrewsbrandon.org.