CROFTON, Ky. (KT) – Tim Morgan isn’t likely to forget his first sermon at Fruit Hill Baptist Church.
He welcomed members on Sunday morning as they drove onto the parking lot, which also happened to be his “auditorium” for the day.
Forty-six members showed up, including five visitors not previously associated with the church, for the new pastor’s inaugural message, an encouraging number considering the church hadn’t been meeting in the past two months during the coronavirus epidemic.
Morgan said he sent out explicit directions to members of the small Christian County church so that they would follow the proper government guidelines for a drive-in service.
So they rolled onto the parking lot and then rolled down their windows hear the word preached.
“I guess there was no better time to start because I can’t do it wrong,” Morgan said. “They’ve not held any kind of services at all since this started.”
Fruit Hill had an interim pastor for the past five years, he said.
When asked how Morgan came to be the new pastor, he had a simple explanation: “God lined it up.”.
When asked to expound, he did. Morgan’s journey to Fruit Hill came after the Lord told him to resign at the church where he was previously pastor only a county away, and where he said “things were rocking.” But the Holy Spirit had other plans for him, he said. “I knew the Lord had told me to resign from my church. We resigned in obedience.”
His former church, Silent Run in Hopkins County, asked him to stay an extra 30 days because of the coronavirus and he agreed, but he knew God had something else for him.
“Somehow, and I really couldn’t honestly tell you how, Fruit Hill found out I wasn’t preaching anywhere and we started talking,” he said.
He was at Silent Run for seven years and they were good years. “I told them, ‘Look at the blessing God has done through our church. We’ve been able to come together. Look at how we’ve changed and grown. We’re leaving on a high note, pastor and church both crying because they don’t want to leave each other.’ God was so gracious.”
Morgan said he struggled if Fruit Hill was where God wanted him to help rebuild. He sought out counsel from Dr. Todd Gray, the executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“I told him I didn’t feel if I was getting good discernment from the Lord. He said, ‘I understand that, and I’ll pray with you about that. But, from a practical side, if you felt the need to step down to help troubled churches, how much more of a sign do you really need?’ That kind of stuck with me.”
So, he agreed to become the pastor of Fruit Hill. Morgan met with the church leadership and began planning a parking lot service. “We set up some speakers and away we went,” he said.
As for the future, he isn’t sure when they will be able to meet inside, but the sooner the better.
“We may not get back in the building until June,” he said. “My first thought is I want to get back in the building. This is an older church with a lot of senior adults. We need to be cautious of what we’re doing. It’s going to be different and new. We will have hand sanitizer, we’re not going to be able to use hymnals and no offering plates. A lot of changes will be forced on us, but that’s OK because I’m a change guy.”
Morgan and his wife, Audrey, have four children – a college graduate, two in college and a sixth-grader. He is a bivocational pastor and will be returning to serve in the Army after being out for eight years. He will be serving at Fort Campbell as an operations officer and as the church as pastor.
“I talked to my commander about coming back and he said, ‘I absolutely think it’s a great thing for you (to pastor the church). That’s where your heart is.’ Obviously, they are going to be some hurdles. I’ll play it all by ear and see what God does.”