There was a long line-up to recognize Rev. John Beers and a full hall at New Minas Baptist Church to mark his 80th birthday and the five decades since his ordination.
Beers is, by no means, retired. He fills in for preachers many Sundays, especially in the summer. He acts as liaison person for the Eastern Valley Baptist Association and is also a chairperson and event organizer.
The celebration, which was attended by close to 200 people, was planned by the Beers’ four children and their spouses. Their oldest son, himself a pastor, acted as MC.
Beers was delighted by the afternoon. “All our children, their spouses and our grandchildren were present for the celebration. There were people present from every church pastorate where I ministered. Also, people were present from all four Atlantic provinces.”
Ministering, he believes, is a calling or vocation, which he felt drawn to as a teenager. Working in a printing plant and for Canadian National Telegraph allowed Beers to seek higher education. His first graduation was in 1962.
Six years later, the provincial government sent Beers on a course to Rutgers University to learn about ministering to alcoholics. Once a member of one of his congregations turned up with a half-full whiskey bottle seeking a life change.
Other skills like mediation and finding resolution, he says, were helpful in his calling. When he did a post grad degree in the early 1980s, with the late Charlie Taylor as supervisor, he examined unresolved grief as a factor in crime.
For ten years Beers served as area minister in western Nova Scotia. Among the churches Beers pastored were: Lawrencetown, several in rural Queens County and Yarmouth, where he helped set up a Help Line.
Beers is aware that some churches today are struggling, while his home church in New Minas has four pastors. The secular world with all its many distractions he acknowledges results in empty pews.
“Some are fading out of the picture. Churches have to move ahead,” he adds, “those that are willing to change.”
Looking across the Maritimes, he said, “A strength of our Baptist denomination is the diversity we share and, for the most part, an acceptance of each other.”
When he considers the on-going influence of the church, Beers responds, “The basic message has not changed, but we need to make the message relevant for today.”
He adds, “And not to remain within the walls of the church, but be out where the people are and seek to make a difference by our presence in word and deed. As Jesus said, ‘be salt and light.’”
Story re-published with permission. Written by Wendy Elliot. Originally published by Kings County News, December 2, 2015: http://www.kingscountynews.ca/Community/2015-12-02/article-4362969/Celebrating-50-years%3A-Rev.-John-Beers-marks-anniversary-of-ordination.
Congratulations on two significant milestone, John!