Less than two years after answering the call to be the senior pastor of the largest Presbyterian congregation in Colorado, the Rev. Graham J. Baird will be leaving the church.
A letter from Baird to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs posted on the church’s web site indicates that he has resigned his call as senior pastor of the church of more than 4,000 members.
“While this has been an incredibly hard decision to make it has been made with the help of many wise friends, prayer partners, spiritual advisors, cohorts in ministry and colleagues in the faith who have been praying with us for some time now,” Baird wrote.
According to the letter, Baird has requested a congregational meeting on March 30 for the purpose of dissolving his pastoral call at FPC-Colorado Springs. The letter indicates April 6 will be his final Sunday at the church.
Attempts to reach Baird for comment were unsuccessful by The Layman. A church staff member indicated Baird’s letter was intended to stand on its own merit.
Baird arrived at FPC-Colorado Springs in July 2012 after his predecessor, Jim Singleton, departed following seven years as the senior pastor to become a member of the staff at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. Singleton also serves as president of the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP), formed in January 2011.
FPC-Colorado Springs, founded in 1872, had just been dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians prior to Baird’s arrival. He was just the third senior pastor for the church since 1971, following Singleton and John H. Stevens, who served from 1971-2005.
Reasons for resigning
In his letter Baird outlined three reasons for choosing to leave the congregation, which remains one of the largest in ECO.
His first reason was to focus on finishing his Doctorate work. He noted that the demands of leading a church of more than 4,000 members and dealing with family pressures were not allowing him to focus fully on his education.
Baird just completed and published his first book, One Hundred Years of Ministry, last fall, and he discovered a passion for writing. He is working on a second book and indicated the decision to leave the pulpit would allow him to take his writing seriously.
He also pointed out that leaving FPC-Colorado Springs would allow him, his wife Star and their two young daughters to be closer to family members living on the West Coast, primarily from California.
“We have valued the rich opportunity we have been given to partner together with you in ministry, and we ask that you continue to uphold us in prayer as Star and I and our family take the next steps and begin the next phase of our journey in ministry,” Baird wrote. “We will continue to pray for all of you as you endeavor your next steps as a church. I know that with God, all things are possible, and all things work together for good for those who love Jesus Christ.”
Jennifer Holz, senior associate executive pastor at FPC-Colorado Springs, also addressed the congregation via electronic media.
“It is with sadness that I need to share some important news with you. Rev. Graham Baird made the difficult decision to resign as senior pastor of First Pres. This decision was made after a great deal of prayer and discernment, and it is a decision he feels is best for his family and our church family,” Holz wrote. “Graham wrote a letter to better explain his decision, and I encourage you to read it on our web site at www.first-pres.org. I know you join me in praying for God’s blessing and guidance upon Graham and his family during this time, and also for First Pres as we move into a new chapter in the life and ministry of this church.”
She added, “Finally, I know that this news comes with shock and sadness. It is difficult when those who are part of our church family leave. But we can all take heart in knowing that we serve a God who is so much bigger than the things of this world.”