Grace Baptist Church Honors Retiring Leadership And Welcomes New Additions

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Doug Alberts, pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Sunset Beach, will retire on August 30. “It’s about time,” Alberts quipped. “I’m 80 years old! I came as an interim 13 years ago and stayed.”

The church, tucked into the beachfront neighborhood, walking distance from the community park, has changed and flourished under Alberts’ ministry.

Members enlarged the sanctuary, added a cathedral ceiling and moved offices to the house across the street, previously the parsonage. They added part-time staff, including Lonnie Earhart as a part-time youth minister, Alecia De la Garza as worship leader and Kelly Brittain as children’s minister. Brittain recently left because of a family relocation.

Alberts’ philosophy is that a church shouldn’t wait to have a healthy ministry to hire staff. It’s the other way around – hire staff to build the ministry. That’s worked pretty well for the church.

Brittain drew many children to the church by re-establishing programs to teach children about foreign and local mission opportunities using Southern Baptist Women On Mission-sponsored groups such as Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action and Mission Friends.

Vacation Bible School has been a huge ministry, packing the church with children. Alberts is a head cheerleader, getting the kids revved up with singing and dancing.

The youth group has also flourished under Alberts’ tenure with close to 20 teens meeting each Wednesday. Youth minister Lonnie Earhart also serves in the same capacity at Transforming Life Church in Pasadena and often combines the two groups, a partnership Alberts said has worked very well.

A spry 67-year-old when he began, Alberts himself hasn’t stopped having fun with the teenagers.

“We have a basketball court out back, and the kids will be playing out there, and I’ll go out and pretend to be grumpy and say, ‘Do you know there’s a charge for that?’” Alberts said with a big grin. “Then they’ll get scared-looking, and I’ll say, ‘You have to come to church at least once!” and then they relax.” Many of the youth have visited as a result of Alberts’ encouragement.

Alberts has also been active outside the church. He’s a volunteer reader at Sunset Elementary School and he serves on a pastoral care team at University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. He also volunteers with the Arundel Baptist Association.

He and his wife, Iris, live in Pasadena, and they’re not going anywhere for retirement except maybe a visit to the Caribbean for some beach time. Nearer to home, he will provide pulpit supply to churches that need him. And, he will continue to worship at Grace Baptist. He’s even formed a friendship with the new pastor, Gordon Fox.

Reverend Fox will begin his ministry at Grace Baptist Church on September 1. Fox formerly pastored Mt. Moriah Church in Knoxville, Maryland. He grew up in New York and served in the Navy. He came to faith when he was 30 years old, and within five years, he felt the call to ministry.

Fox graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity before accepting his position at Mt. Moriah. He and his wife, Rina, have a grown son, Wellie, who lives in Pittsburgh, and a 17-year-old son, Robert, entering his senior year of high school.

Fox enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, biking and studying the Bible. The family will move to the Pasadena area within the year. Fox will attend Albert’s retirement dinner on August 30.

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