Pastor’s faith grows during hard times
Winchester — The senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church knows what it’s like to be financially strapped and wonder if the bills will be paid each month.
But even during the toughest times, “I never lost faith that I was exactly where God wanted me to be,” said the Rev. Doug Frazier.
A Virginia native from Charlottesville, Frazier was serving at a rural Baptist church outside of Richmond when he became a missionary and began “planting” churches in the area. He carried out this task for 13 years and helped start more than a dozen new churches, some as large as 1,500 members today.
He organized everything from land purchases to building construction, identified launch teams, coordinated membership drives, and oversaw other administrative duties as needed, he said.
In 2006, he became the pastor of his mother’s home church in Charlottesville and served for three years. He and his wife, Betsy, hoped to remain there indefinitely, but things didn’t work out as planned.
He took an interim pastor position for a while, but when he didn’t find another full-time church position, “I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life,” he said.
Frazier became a home improvement salesman and focused on home energy consultations in the Richmond metro area as a way to pay the bills.
Often, he felt out of his realm and that he was going through the wilderness and was being tested, Frazier said of those years. “But I truly believed there was a purpose for where I was and I learned a lot, not all good, about myself, about other people, and about business.”
The economy turned sour, and he hit a financial “slump.” At that point, his brother and wife had moved in with them, their daughter was in college, and his wife was diagnosed as medically disabled. During that time, he had expressed interest in the senior pastor position at Calvary Baptist Church, he said. “Every time I went on their website, my heart skipped a beat.”
“Things were very tight financially. I was driving 3,300 miles a month just to make one sale,” he recalled. At their lowest point, Betsy and he decided to make a deadline of March 31 to determine what they should do next.
“We were struggling to make ends meet, wondering what to do next, and then the phone rang and it was someone on the search committee at Calvary Baptist Church,” he recounted.
He came to Winchester for a trial sermon weekend, and after meeting with the search committee several times, he was asked to start April 1 of last year — the very day after Betsy and he had set a deadline for making a decision.
This first full year at Calvary Baptist Church has been an “incredible time of trust building, falling in love with each other, and focusing on missions,” he said.
Tough economic times throughout the region hit the church hard, but this past fall, the members decided to dedicate their donations in a special offering, called the Harvest, to sustain mission work, he said.
With that in mind, church members are planning a trip this summer to work with Native Americans on a reservation in the Dakotas; they also donated some of their mission funds to Winchester Rescue Mission, some to purchase mosquito netting for residents in Ghana, and some toward helping to alleviate world hunger.
“As a church, we are focusing on local, national and worldwide needs,” Frazier said.
Members who had left the church for a variety of reasons in the past are beginning to return, and average attendance at Sunday worship service has increased this year from 120 to 130, he said.
“Calvary’s story these past 5 to 6 years was decline and survival. But that’s not our story anymore. We are writing a new story and are focusing on the future,” he said. “This is the friendliest church, and members are warm, open, encouraging and responsive. It’s a wonderful fit.”
As for Winchester, Frazier said he and Betsy love the city, which though smaller, has a very distinct personality and unique vibe, similar to Charlottesville.
The couple has two grown children, Mark and Caris.
Sunday school for all ages is held at 9:30 a.m. Worship services take place at 10:45 a.m. Sundays at Calvary Baptist Church. Call 540-667-2323, email email@example.com, or go to calvarywinchester.org.