When I moved to Williamsburg in July of 2007, my parents had been going to a church that was… drumroll please… PRESBYTERIAN!! I had no idea that presbyterians were still around (kidding) or that they were like cool and stuff (also kidding) and so I was presently surprised that visiting their church was actually fairly pleasant.
Looking back, I realized it was Brandon Barrett, the senior pastor at the time, who took on the role of being the most significant in my personal spiritual journey in the past few years and in many ways the biggest if not only reason I was and still am at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church – at first because of his preaching, his influence and leadership, and now because of his encouragement to always consider why I am still here.
When I was offered the job at GCPC as the music director, Brandon gave me reasons why he felt I would be good for the job. I was thrilled and honored but also a little worried. I knew it would mean that I would have less “free” time and that I’d be working two jobs so that taking time off from one for the other would be a constant decision in planning life.
But I knew he was right and sometimes you need someone else to be confident for you in your calling when you are less than sure. And it has been more than my fair share of a blessing to be at my church and serving through music and the arts in a way that I never would have thought I would be doing with my life.
Being in college ministry prior to being the senior pastor at GCPC, Brandon knew well the struggles of students and singles. He was eager to put single people in our church in ministry and leadership and he knew well that we were a somewhat marginalized group of folks – like we were constantly in the waiting rooms of society. It was a pleasure to speak with him as an equal in God’s eyes, co-laborers and stuff – and he honestly asked for and considered all my opinions and trusted my judgment in launching things like City Arts Cafe and acapella services. Working for Brandon was a joy and I feel like I had grown more under his care in the 4 years than I had in most of my life.
And because I’m at GCPC, I met Rob. In an ironic/Providential sense, it was meant to be. Pastor Barrett received a call and God moved him away from us, sadly but with great hope in the work that God is always doing through those who seek Him. I will never forget our last lunch meeting together when he in typical Brandon style encouraged me and asked me good questions and challenged me. To this day, I often think “what would Brandon do” – not to be sacrilegious but that in many ways he was a great person to talk things over with, always asking great questions and being committed to big picture goals.
And because I knew, and Brandon encouraged me to know, that God called me to GCPC and that I was the right “man” for the job – I stayed put, I continued to serve as best I could, and I committed to being everything God made me to be which may have included being in ministry as a single person for the rest of my life. And then the end of April came along and God said, not so fast, Robin! Watch this!
And then there was two…
I feel truly honored by the people who God has brought into my life, just when I needed them and who encouraged me to stay the course. Brandon will always be one of those people for me at a time when things easily could have gone a hundred ways. But it went the way I know it was supposed to so far, and I know that God led me straight to right here. And so I thank Brandon and I thank God for him and pray for him every time I think of him in his ministry wherever God leads.