MONROE, MI – The minister says he’s not retiring. Rather, he and his wife will be helping small churches.
The Rev. Roy Southerland, senior pastor at Monroe Missionary Baptist Church since 2000, is leaving his post May 31.
The Rev. Tim Iocoangeli will take over as pastor June 1.
Pastor Iocoangeli is currently the church’s pastor of discipleship and family. Last month, church members selected him for the pastor role. A search has begun to find a successor.
Pastor Southerland said the time was right to change leaders at the large church, where 600 to 700 worshippers attend services.
“Now it’s time for a new, younger guy to take the reins. I sensed for a long time that God was calling me to get the church situated for this change. Pastor Tim is a good choice. He grew up in the church, left to pastor and came back about four years ago to serve with us,” he said.
Pastor Southerland has lived in the county since 1992 and is known throughout the community, even by people who don’t attend the church.
He and his wife, Carrie, will continue to live in the area and they aren’t exactly retiring.
“I felt like God was calling us to a different area of ministry. We’re going to be support for small churches and be evangelists,” he said. “My main goal is working to encourage struggling pastors and churches. I’ll be available to assist.”
Although he’s not certain what his specific duties will be, he expects some travel.
“I’m staying in the area and going to do all from here. I anticipate it will be quite a bit of travel as God opens up doors. I’ve had requests already,” he said.
Pastor Southerland has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, biblical studies and church education from Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College, Mayfield, Ky. He was ordained Sept. 28, 1986, in Tennessee and served churches in Tennessee and Kentucky.
He arrived in Monroe County in 1992 to be pastor at Dundee Baptist Church. In 1997, he was named associate pastor and minister of youth/education at Monroe Missionary Baptist.
That same year, the church, which began in 1937, moved from Wadsworth St. to its much larger current location on S. Dixie Hwy.
In September, 2000, he was installed as Monroe Missionary Baptist’s 10th pastor. He succeeded longtime pastor Dr. Damon Patterson, who retired.
Pastor Southerland is most proud of the church’s strong emphasis on mission work.
Today, church members serve as missionaries in the Middle East, Africa, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, India and in St. Joseph, Mich.
After 21 years at Monroe Missionary Baptist, Pastor Southerland will most miss ministering to families, both at the church and in the community.
“I’ve enjoyed serving the people and seeing families changed and encouraged,” he said.
He never expected he’d stay at one church so long.
“The average (stay of a pastor) is less than two years. Monroe’s just a great church, has a great vision, good people to work with. The community itself is very open to the ministry,” said Pastor Southerland. “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend 21 years doing my best with the church.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Wisler writes for The Monroe News. This article was taken from The Monroe News in Monroe, MI.