Golden Isles Christian Church Welcomes Acting Pastor | Life
Given his history, it is almost fitting for Reverend Bob Bole to serve as Acting Pastor at Golden Isles Christian Church. Bole has served for decades in churches in places with “island” or “island” in their names.
As soon as he left the theological school in 1972, he went on foreign missions to the West Indies in a career of theological education which led him to Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, Montserrat and sometimes to Cuba, mainly via Jamaica. among other places. Bole said he has been going there about once a year since.
Now 77, he’s still ministering full-time when you add up two part-time jobs, as an interim pastor at Old Jesup Road Church and in Jacksonville as a chaplain of about 700 people at Taylor Residences, a nursing home and health care facility. which covers the whole gamut from independent living to assisted living to memory care, he said.
Taylor Residences is a short drive from his home in Orange Park to the drive to Brunswick to organize Sunday morning services and Sunday and Wednesday evening teaching sessions at church. Bole said he liked the location of the small church in what was once an open country, but it can be frustrating.
âI’m just starting to get to know Georgia and I had my share of the loss overnight,â he said.
While spending the night in the parsonage of the church, he went shopping on the Golden Isles Parkway.
âBy the time I left there,â he said, âit was really dark and I couldn’t remember how I got there. I had to call for help.
With his experience, however, he does not need guidance beyond the Bible to lead the Christian Church in the Golden Isles. He had already held the position there and accepted the acting position about seven weeks ago, when Reverend Grant Wheeler left after about 17 years to become a Jacksonville chaplain at a hospice.
Bole said there is no end of service date there and it could take a year. His job, he said, is to teach and lead, not to do the day-to-day work of the church. This will be left to the congregation of about 50 people.
The length of his stay is not a problem for Bole.
âI really like people. They’re really old school, and that’s fine with me. â¦ I kind of got attached to it. There are good people out there, as nice as they can be, âhe said.
This is his first very small church. Its last was 300 to 400 members, although it was not a mega-church it was still larger than Golden Isles, he said.
Having worked in foreign missions, he has seen churches do a lot with few resources, while in the United States, churches with a lot often do very little. Bole said his job is to guide people in fulfilling the mission of spreading the gospel and reaching the lost.
âMy job is to do the work that God has put in front of you,â he said. âWhatever God puts in front of you, you do to the best of your ability. “
The Christian Church emerged from the Restoration movement and has since divided into three groups, the Church of Christ, the Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ. There was a split between the Church of Christ, which adores only capella, and the “instrumental” Christian Church. The Disciples of Christ are considered the more liberal or progressive wing. Bole said he ministered in all three, preaching the same gospel, regardless of his name.
He is also the author of a thick book of Christian essays called “Thoughts Worth Thinking”. Former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer S. Carroll, a devout Christian, felt it was worth commending.
There are certain needs in the Golden Isles Christian Church that must be met, including a gap between very young and mature members. There is a ministry to children, but no active education for young people, adolescents and pre-adolescents, he said.
He plans to meet with members to see how they want to resolve this issue, as good programs for children and youth tend to attract young families, Bole said. This could help the small congregation to grow, although it already was to some extent as attendance has increased since her arrival.
When he talks about his work in Jacksonville in the Baptist health care system, he clearly seems to have answered a call. Bole was already trained in pastoral education and had taught at several levels, including a Bible college in St. Augustine, but Baptist Health requires his chaplains to have a master’s degree in counseling, so Bole returned to school.
âI received a phone call the day before graduation,â he said. âI accepted the job and I have no regrets.
But soon after, COVID-19 kept him away from his workplace.
âWith COVID, the facilities became isolated, families couldn’t come in and I couldn’t come in to help them,â he said.
On the rare occasions when he could meet residents, he had to don a “moon suit” to protect himself and the residents.
A few days ago, he met a woman who had lost her son.
âShe was deeply saddened, as you can imagine. I went to sit with her, spoke with her and prayed with her,â which cheered her up, Bole said. “We had a good visit. It helped her.”
All pastors need to counsel people occasionally because that is part of the job description, he said, but it helps a lot to be trained in professional counseling, to interpret how people are feeling and to give them sound advice, Bole said.
The worn-out practice of throwing away a few scriptures is not always enough for those in pain, he said.
COVID has also caused many people to stay home from church and watch sermons delivered online, which still affects attendance. as is probably the case in Golden Isles Christian.
For a year and a half, Bole served as an interim pastor at Church of Christ in Jacksonville Beach, where about half of the congregation watched on the internet, he said.
âBy the time they hired a full-time pastor, most of them were back. People who get involved, that’s what they want to do. They want to be there, ” he said.
Bole has said he wants the church to be strong when his replacement arrives. His own plans are to take a long trip with his wife on his Harley, which he has driven for years, and return to the islands and work with churches there.
âIn the islands they are really excited to work and reach out to unbelievers. You have to keep going, reaching out, reaching for the lost, ” while helping people along the way, he said.
Golden Isles Christian Church wants to do the same, he said.