By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
MONROE, La. (LBM) – After COVID-19 temporarily halted a program that assists ministers and missionaries, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries has restarted the Ministerial Care Residential Program.
The program that began in 2018 will host its first approved applicants as soon as Sept. 1. Louisiana Baptist terminated ministers, and International Mission Board missionaries on stateside assignment, transitioning to a new ministry or recently retired will be eligible to receive a free apartment on the LBCHFM’s campus in Monroe for up to one year.
LBCHFM President and CEO Perry Hancock told the Baptist Message he is excited to offer the opportunity for ministers and missionaries to rest while they seek God’s direction for their future plans.
“Ministers have benefitted greatly from the program,” Hancock said. “They have been able to rest from the challenging demands of ministry. That may sound ‘elementary’ but burnout is an ever-present possibility in ministry.
“I believe that the program has also helped some to refocus or clarify God’s call for their ministry,” he continued. “Some have discovered that, rather than being a senior pastor, they need to serve in a different ministry position. That’s why the program is so important. It provides the support ministers needs to make important decisions as God leads.”
Dennis Phelps will serve as director of the program, and he will be the director of church and alumni relations. Phelps was called to vocational ministry, licensed and ordained at College Place Baptist Church in Monroe and has more than 40 years of ministry experience as a pastor, seminary professor and interim pastor.
“Dr. Phelps is a gifted preacher and a great encourager,” Hancock said. “He will serve well as a compassionate mentor for the ministers in our program.”
David Rhymes, who participated in the program in 2018, said his family received much encouragement at LBCHFM when they returned to the United States during a stateside assignment as IMB missionaries. Rhymes now serves as pastor of family discipleship at First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.
“What began as normal stateside assignment from the mission field turned into a period of transition and uncertainty,” Rhymes said. “God used our Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home to provide our family a place to live while we prayerfully sought the Spirit’s guidance. What a blessing.
“Of all the things we needed to process during this season of life, housing was one of them,” he continued. “This allowed us to focus on our family and feel a sense of normalcy. We are forever grateful to LBCH for serving our family in this way.”
For more information on the Ministerial Care Residential Program, visit https://www.lbch.org/ministercare.php, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 318.343.2244.