The move to St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church has been the “right fit” for the Rev. Darryl Tate, who came to Baton Rouge with an exuberance for evangelism and ministry.

“This church has given me even more energy,” said Tate, who took over at the church at the end of June after a three-year stint in Rayville, where he also led a breakfast Bible study at McDonald’s, the “church of the Golden Arches.”

“I wake up every morning now between 4 and 5, and I’m leaving the house at 6:15 doing ministry,” he said. “I meet groups at CC’s in the morning for ministry, building connections and relationships. Then I go to the office and do ministry there and get out in the community and visit.”

Those weekday meetings at the church and in the community and three Sunday services give Tate an opportunity to do what he has enjoyed since answering his call to ministry 38 years ago — share Jesus.

“I have a passion for presenting Christ to a hurting world,” said Tate, 54. “John 3:16 sums the whole Bible … And I’m called as his servant to present the gospel to the world and offer them Christ and make a difference in their lives.”

Evangelism, he said, “is really my heart, my passion. I think it goes back to the Great Commission to go ye into the world and make disciples for Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world. He’s given us that mandate. He’s given us that authority. We have the answer and that answer is in Jesus crucified, risen and alive. We just have to offer it to the world.”

The key to evangelism, Tate said, is setting good examples for the world to see.

“We don’t just go out there with the Bible in your hands to beat people over the heads,” he said. “It’s by living it and letting people see the light that shines inside of us and having people to want the same thing that we experience in life.”

Tate, a native of New Iberia, has been recognized for garnering 600 professions of faith and last year received the Harry Denman Evangelism Award in honor of the noted Methodist lay leader and evangelist.

Tate said he wears with pride a lapel pin signifying the honor.

“I’m very humbled,” he said. “That reminds me every time I put that pin on one of my jackets, Christ is counting on me, and he’s counting on everyone of us.”

Tate was born and raised in the Methodist church. He attended LSU, where he got a degree in business administration and earned a degree in theology from Fairfax University. He earned his master’s of divinity degree from the prestigious Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

It was on July 18, 1983, while a freshman at the Dallas school that Tate moved to another level of spirituality. He answered an altar call during a chapel service of about 400 people, telling the speaker he desired to be healed of his double vision.

“He laid his hands on me and my heart was strangely warmed, and I’ve never looked back,” he said.

Tate’s ministerial journey has included stops in St. Martinville, Plaquemine, Donaldsonville, Basile, Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Rayville and back to Baton Rouge.

St. Andrew’s is a mission-minded church, he said, with a solid membership of about 1,400 and strong leadership.

“It feels like the right fit,” he said. “This is a wonderful congregation. The church is laity-led. They need the preacher to get out of the way and give them the guidance they need and continue the energy they already have. We’re just working together.”

Tate has worked to focus on the church’s youth and older adult populations.

“The two groups are important parts of our church and our community,” he said.

For the youth, Tate has added a Bible study at the church and plans a weekly 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Bible study gathering at McDonald’s. The church will pay for the students’ breakfast at the “church of the Golden Arches.” Tate started the McDonald’s Bible study while in Rayville, with more than 70 students attending a week.

“You just have to be flexible,” he said. “Because of the life that we’re living today and our young people are living today, you have to have different venues, entrance points for people getting connected into the life of the church.”

For the older parishioners, Tate has added morning meetings and a Wednesday night communion service and has enhanced the church’s relationship with a local retirement home.

Tate welcomes the additional opportunities to minister.

“I don’t mind the work,” he said. “I don’t mind making the effort, because in the long run, it’s going to meet people’s needs, and when you meet the people’s needs and you give them spirituality and hope and the tools in the tool chest, it’s going to make a difference in their lives.”

Before heading to Rayville, Tate helped make a difference in the lives of people in crisis. He served for eight years in Baton Rouge as president and CEO of the Louisiana Disaster Response team for United Methodist Council on Relief. The organization served 125,000 households after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

“We couldn’t evangelize the normal way,” he said. “In those eight years, I saw mankind hurting and lost because of everything they had lost. But I saw gratification because the church was able to be there to help people and was able to get them back in their houses and recover and make a difference in their lives.”

Off to a ‘great’ start

Under dynamic, new Pastor Brandon D. Buckley, Voices of Faith Ministries in Baton Rouge has seen an increase of more than 200 members in the past year.

That will be another cause for celebration when Buckley and the church hold his first anniversary events at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the church, 3515 N. Sherwood Forest Blvd.

The guest speaker for the services will be Bishop Gary Hawkins, the overseer of Voices of Faith with seven locations in Georgia — headquartered in Atlanta — in addition to the Baton Rouge location.

“I’m humbled and thankful by this God-ordained responsibility. I’m so grateful for the confidence Bishop Hawkins has shown in choosing me as pastor,” said Buckley, a 32-year-old Baton Rouge native. “Certainly, I am committed to the progressional future of building a great church here in Baton Rouge. I will approach the work of the ministry with much love and relentless faith that God will fulfill the vision established by our founder. We are continuing changing lives by faith during this God-appointed transition.”

Being made whole

Jesus asked a rather “absurd” question to a crippled man in John 5, the Rev. Henry Lamb said during a message last week at the Fourth District Baptist Association’s Evangelistic Campaign at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Scotlandville.

“(Jesus) said, ‘Do you want to be made whole?’ ” Lamb said.

Lamb, the pastor of Greater Arlington Baptist Church and Straightway Ministries in Baton Rouge, posed the question to his listeners and added his own to get his sermon title: “Do You Want to be Made Whole or Do You Just Want to Feel Better?”

There a drastic difference, Lamb assured.

“Notice the question,” Lamb said. “He didn’t say, ‘Do you want to feel better?’ Nor did he say, ‘Do you want to stop being a cripple?’ Just feeling better, that’s just temporary. But if you’re made whole, that’s eternal.”

The man had been crippled for 38 years. Year after year, he waited at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, waiting for the healing waters to move. But he could never get in ahead of the other sick people because of his disability.

Lamb said the day the man met Jesus “was a special time.”

“The Bible already says that there was a multitude, but Jesus saw him,” Lamb said. “What I’m trying to say to somebody in his church today is, Jesus sees you.”

Lamb reminded listeners not to make excuses like the man did and not to focus on the pool but rather on what Jesus says.

Lamb’s message closed out the six-day Evangelistic Campaign with each of the Fourth District’s six parishes — East and West Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, Iberville — hosting a night.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or by email to trobinson @theadvocate.com.