by Paige K. Mitchell
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Change definitely came knocking at the door when Senior Pastor Jason A. Barr Jr. suffered from a brain aneurysm in 2007, and was out of the church for six months. Macedonia Baptist Church of Pittsburgh was left to find a way to continue.
During his time of recovery, the ministers of the church continuously shifted services trying to maintain the church, and successfully delivered God’s word. Brian James Edmonds, a minister at Macedonia, stepped up to the plate to keep the church moving in the right direction as smoothly as possible.
|PASSING THE BIBLE—Rev. Dr. Jason A. Barr Jr., right, senior pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in the Hill District, hands a Bible to Brian Edmonds. Edmonds will preach the noon service for young adults.
“I was at the right place at the right time, exactly where God called me to be,” said Edmonds. “Macedonia is where I belonged.” And Edmonds was determined to live up to Barr’s expectations, while he was away.
Pastor Barr has been preaching at Macedonia since 1988. Edmonds came in March of 2004 for an internship at the church. He was primarily focused on young adults and college students. Some colleges he worked with were CMU, Duquesne, Pitt and Point Park. Both Pastor Barr and Edmonds graduated from Duke Divinity School, with degrees in seminary and theology. Pastor Barr received a bachelor’s degree in ministry from the University of Florida in Gainesville as well. “I already knew of Pastor Barr from the school we had both attended, so I was pleased to work with him,” Edmonds said. “College was the good old days,” said Pastor Barr.
Edmonds is originally from Baltimore, and said he moved to Pittsburgh after being offered a full time position at the church. “I am excited to have the opportunity to minister in this way and humbled that Pastor Barr placed such trust in me,” Edmonds said.
When Pastor Barr came back from his illness he was ready to start preaching again, until he quickly realized that taking on all three services every Sunday was far too much.
“I was becoming much too tired to handle all three services, so a change was a must,” he said. He also noticed the extreme drop of attendance in the 12 p.m. service. Over the time the pastor was gone, at least 200 members were no longer with the church. Pastor Barr began to preach at the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services, but left the 12 p.m. service to be shuffled among the other pastors. The majority of the time, Edmonds was the one preaching at the 12 p.m. service. “I love the 12 o’clock crowd, because they’re real, and open to learn with you if you learn with them,” Edmonds said.
Little did Edmonds know that Pastor Barr was looking and praying for someone to come along and preach at the last service, and seeking someone to captivate their attention and bring the crowd back. “I believe Brian is the most gifted preacher on our staff,” Pastor Barr said. He desperately wanted to bring consistency back to Macedonia instead of having a different preacher every service, every Sunday.
He recently made an announcement during the last church service that Edmonds would be preaching at the 12 p.m. service from now on. “When Brian came to Macedonia as an intern, I knew he was something special, and he was a lot of help, too, “Pastor Barr said. “I was starting to give up on interns, because they were all such know-it-alls. Brian’s presence and timing reinforced my faith with God. If I would have became ill before Brian got here, I don’t think the church would have held up the way it did. Having Edmonds here at Macedonia is a blessing. He has no idea how much he has helped me. I appreciate him very much. God orders all things.” Pastor Barr said.
Pastor Barr has finally found what he has been looking for and his prayers have been answered. Edmonds is now recognized as the official youth, and young adult pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church. “I want to provide a 75-minute service that is relevant to the young adult generation, community and culture,” Edmonds said. “God works in mysterious ways, and puts people in your life for a reason. I’m excited to see how God is going to move and transform people’s lives from the 12 p.m. service.”