He states that if he had to (individually) count up all of his years of pastoring, the total would come to 145 years! If that is the case, then the words of an old spiritual, “sit down servant, I can’t sit down” were written with him in mind.
The Rev. Dr. Joseph J. Ferguson now enjoys Pastor Emeritus status after leading the St. Paul UCC church of Franklin for 53 years! “Before retiring”, he states, “I pastored the Laurel Hill UCC in Suffolk for 28 years, the St. Luke UCC in Sedley, VA for 30 years, the Chapel Grove UCC in Windsor, VA for 27 years and Calvary Christian Church in Newport News, VA for 7 years. Total years pastored 145 (one hundred and forty-five years)! With that kind of spirit for service and pastoral insight, HAVING CHURCH/ HC magazine asked Rev. Ferguson to comment on the following questions:
HC: At what age did it become clear to you that God had called you to preach AND pastor?
REV. FERGUSON: At the age of 19 it became clear to me that God was calling me to preach. This month the study of the works of Jonah has been our focus, as I look at the struggle of Jonah I could see many of the paths my life took to bring me to say yes to the Lord.
HC: Were there any “unique” circumstances around your “call” and what were those circumstances?
REV. FERGUSON: Restless was one of the circumstances, I worked every day but once the workday was over I could not be at peace. I would lay awake at night looking up at the ceiling asking why I could not sleep.
HC: Do you recall your FIRST sermon? Do you remember how it felt to preach that very first sermon?
REV. FERGUSON: Yes I recall my first sermon, March, 1962 at Zion Christian Church, Suffolk,VA. It was a relief, some nervousness, however I was not afraid. My title was “Supreme Unction”. It means an act of anointing (John 16:12).
HC: Looking back, what was the BEST part of pastoring?
REV. FERGUSON: As I look back over the years, the best part of pastoring after 53 years is the joy of sharing the message of Hope and Healing that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
HC: What 3 pieces of advice/ wisdom would you give to younger pastors?
REV. FERGUSON: I would say to younger pastors: 1) All you do, do it to the glory of God and not for your own glory. 2) Learn to love the people of God giving all that you have. 3) Show no favoritism. Each person is God’s gift and each person needs to know they are God’s creation.
HC: Thanks so much Rev. Ferguson. After so many years of dedicated service, God has truly blessed you with the opportunity to “choose your seat and sit down”.