Reverend Jason A. Barr II resigned as senior pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in the Hill District March 26 at a church meeting, because of poor health. He is being replaced by Brian James Edmonds. He hasn’t been able to preach for nearly 16 months.
|REV. DR. JASON BARR
When Pastor Barr came to Pittsburgh to become the Senior Pastor, he was 33 years old. He had with him his new wife, Kim of two years and the couple had no children. The congregation had about 400-450 members, was rooted in years of tradition, held only one 11 a.m. service, and was not leaving an economic nor socially empowering imprint on the community.
After 24 years, the congregation has grown to a membership of 3000 plus, one of the largest in the Pittsburgh area, there are three Sunday services at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 12 noon.
Pastor Barr says of his departure, “There have been ups, there have been downs, but I would change nothing and take nothing for the 24-year journey I’ve had here at Macedonia.”
The Board of Elders announced that they were selecting Pastor of Discipleship Brian James Edmonds as the interim senior pastor. At the same time, the elders felt strongly that it was important for Macedonia to maintain a connection with Pastor Barr and he was made Pastor Emeritus. Holloway stated “Pastor Barr was more than just our Senior Pastor, his transformative leadership has been reflected in what he brought to the Hill, the entire Pittsburgh Community and beyond.”
Ongoing health issues that began when Barr experienced a brain aneurysm in September of 2007 are the basis behind the resignation. Absent from the pulpit for approximately five months, leading into the spring of 2008; was a time of great readjustment according to Executive Pastor Mark Tookes.
Pastor Barr would only be back to his full time ministry a little over two years, when on a return trip from taking his son back to school at Point Park, Boyce Campus, he was in a car accident. A woman ran into him, and the collision was such that he had to be cut from his vehicle. This occurred in December 2010. “It seemed like we had been struck by lightning twice,” says Pastor Tookes of his reaction when he received the phone call regarding the accident. “It was very hard to believe”.
Sixteen months have passed since Pastor Barr has been in the pulpit. After hearing from his physicians that they could not even now, place any kind of definitive timeline as to how much longer it would be before he would be able to be back to the church; and though the deacons, elders, associate ministers, and the congregation were hopeful for his return, he ultimately felt that it would be in the best interest of the church to resign so they could move on. At the meeting he stated with much emotion and a hint of humor in his voice, “I had two thoughts when I came here, that is that I would last longer than a year, but would not be here more than 40 years—I’ve managed to accomplish those two goals.”
After his return from the first incident, he and the elders took a cautionary action and appointed, Pastor Mark Tookes as executive pastor, and Pastor Brian Edmonds as pastor of discipleship, two positions the elders felt should be filled so that in the event anything like this would happen again, there would be someone in charge of the church.
He says, “It was a real eye opener for Pastor Edmonds and myself, stepping into his shoes, leading people, preparing relevant sermons every week, preaching three services, all while maintaining the positions we held; at the time I was the pastor of congregational care, and Pastor Edmonds was the pastor over the college ministry.” Tookes continues, “With all of this our first goal was to keep Pastor Barr’s face before the people, and to continue pushing his vision so it would never appear as though we were trying to take over the church. This was important so that when he returned, he would have nothing to rebuild; but would be able to step directly back into his role as leader of this Church. We believe we accomplished that.”