CALLING OF PASTOR R. E. HERRING, SR.
A week of prayer was set aside at the church for members to come together and pray for a new pastor after the death of Rev. S. A. Thomas in 1995. At the completion of the week of prayer, a committee was chosen to search for a new pastor. Calls went out to the committee members. Committee members were Chairman of the Deacon Board, Dea. W. Bellamy, Sr., Dea. Samuel Barney, Dea. David Masline, Dea. Lenox Crumell, Dea. Johnny Smith, Sis. Patricia Lewis (secretary of committee), Sis. Catherine Wright, and Mother Sarah Rice.
The first meeting was held in the home of Mother Sarah Rice at 5807 Castellano Street. At the first meeting, Dea. Bellamy informed committee members of their responsibility in the search process.
The committee organized and set up their strategy. Through the church grapevine it was made known that Mt. Bethel was in search of a pastor and application letters came in daily. The committee would read every application/letter that was received to see if the applicants met the basic requirements that the committee had set up. Those that did not were eliminated, and then the second process of elimination began.
After 18 months the applicants were finally narrowed down to three ministers; Rev. Craig Riley (Tallahassee, FL), Rev. R. E. Herring, Sr. (St. Augustine, FL) and Rev. Patrick Miller of Leesburg, Florida.
The committee traveled to the churches of the three applicants to hear them preach in their home churches and mingle with their congregation. The three applicants were then invited to preach at Mt. Bethel. After preaching the applicants were screened by the entire Deacon Board and the committee. This process took approximately a year and a half.
The committee brought their recommendation of Rev. R. E. Herring, Sr. to the church. The name met with some opposition and it was decided that a ballot vote would be held for all three ministers. All of Mount Bethel’s members (in good standing) were allowed to vote for the minister of their choice. Voting was held in the old dining/kitchen area.
After the vote, Pastor R. E. Herring had the most votes. A call was made that night telling him of the result of the vote and asking him if he would accept the pastorate of Mount Bethel. That night, a letter was prepared by Sis. Laura Smith and was taken to Pastor Herring’s house by Dea. Wilbur Bellamy, Sr.. The rest is history.
The Office Volunteers were in charge of preparing the ballots, and they noticed that the box beside Pastor Herring’s name seemed to be a little larger than the other boxes. They tried to correct it, but it would not change. God made the choice for us. He heard our prayers and answered with His choice.