The Columbia Baptist Fellowship officially welcomed its new leading pastor, the Rev. Dave C. Stancil, March 4. The installation service celebrated the pastor's accession with hymns and praises. Each speaker shared lighthearted anecdotes and words of encouragement to the pastor and his wife.
"He's a very personable person," said Karen Canfield, chairwoman of the Pastor Search Committee at Columbia Baptist Fellowship. "He's like a real shepherd."
The search for a new pastor began in 2010 after the previous pastor, Robert Jordan, left to work with Habitat for Humanity. The committee contacted Stancil through an online pastor search database. After reviewing 80 resumes from across the country, they believe they found the right match in Stancil.
"Everyone is very happy to have him here," Canfield said. "He knows what's going on and he has a vision."
Said youth pastor Neville Johnson, who works closely with Stancil: "He has brought stability to the congregation. It is very good for us."
Stancil, 61, and his wife, Jill, relocated to the Wilde Lake area of Columbia two months ago from Bristol, Virginia, where he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bristol. He and his wife have a daughter and a son, Anna and Nathan, and three grandchildren.
Although he has been in Columbia just a short time, he already has fallen in love with the cultural diversity of the area, which is amplified within the congregation of Columbia Baptist Fellowship.
"This church has always had a multi-racial congregation and it's just beautiful to me how we get along," Stancil said. "This is just so biblical."
Diversity is a fundamental characteristic of Columbia Baptist Fellowship, which meets at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.
"Having spent most of my life in the south, this is just really different from how racial relations have been in my experience," he said.
Stancil also wants to reach out to youth and other members of the community.
"We have not been as effective as we can be in reaching our neighborhood, to the families who actually live here," he said.
His vision includes developing a regular presence in the Oakland Mills community and encouraging those within his congregation to spread the word of their faith to others.
"The most effective way to bring people to Jesus is through people you already know," Stancil said. "The bridges of friendship are the most effective bridges."
An important focus of his, Stancil said, is to help others learn to build relationships that last.
"He's a really good fit for the church," said Kenisha Burks, a member of the church. "He's a down to earth person, which we needed."
Burks was recently in the hospital recovering from surgery and Stancil was there to visit her.
"You can hear the strength in his voice," said Burks' mother, Terry. "You feel comfortable (with Stancil), like he's a part of the family."
The installation service, as Stancil described it in his address to the congregation, was like a marriage to the congregation. He solidified the union with the congregation reciting a covenant promising to work hard to fulfill his duties as a Christian and as a pastor.
"I have never been around anything like this before. It's fun every day to be a part of this," Stancil said of his new church home.