Jocelyn and I were fresh out of Bible College and newly married. We needed someone to believe in us and give us a chance in a church. Enter Fred and Barb Day.
Fred and Barb gave us that chance. In June 1980, Fred invited me to serve as his assistant pastor in a congregation of just under 300. He was newly elected as the Lead pastor. I became his first staff member.
That started ten years of a working partnership. First at Essex Gospel Tabernacle (EGT), in farm country, southern Ontario. Two and a half years later at Lakeshore Evangelical Church on the West Island of metropolitan Montreal, Quebec.
Fred gave me more than a job. He gave me an opportunity.
He clarified what’s most important about leadership: creating opportunities for the people you lead. On our first Sunday, he asked me to preach the evening service (remember those?). And then he entrusted me with significant responsibilities.
EGT was a full-service congregation which meant I worked with the youth group, lead the Sunday School, facilitated the Sunday morning adult Bible class, oversaw a mid-week children’s program called Crusaders, visited seniors and shut-ins, managed the bus ministry that picked up children for Sunday School, lead worship and preached once a month.
Our first couple of years together were post-graduate studies in ecclesiology, relational leadership, and the medicinal value of laughter. Fred laughed. A lot. When Fred laughed it was hard not to laugh along with him. He brought laughter to the pulpit and every meeting he was in. Laughter lightened the tension when things were too serious and ministered to people’s spirits when they needed a lift.
Fred invited me into meetings and Barb invited us to their home. We spent a Christmas with them because both our families were far from home. We travelled together to ministerial meetings and district conferences. When he hired me, Fred asked me for only one thing. To be loyal to him. A lead pastor is loyal to their board and church. A pastor’s staff is loyal to the pastor. That was one of the best lessons I learned.
All The Days’ Music
The Days were accomplished, well liked, and respected. Barb often played piano or organ for district events. We gained a respect for the use of all types of music, including rock, through Barb. At a time when Christians were burning their “secular” albums, Barb counselled me to see the Creator in all forms of music.
The bonus of working with the Days was their three sons. Jocelyn and I watched them grow up and be devoted to God and ministry. All three served as pastors and I was privileged to have their eldest son, Paul, be my assistant in Montreal. They were musically gifted like their mom and made it possible for us to have top drawer worship for every Sunday service, youth, and young adult event.
All four of us were from the eastern Canada. None of us envisioned our entire families ending up in the West. The Days had retired to the Maritimes. All three of their sons and their grandkids lived in Calgary. So they moved West.
On Thanksgiving weekend, 42 years from the start of our working relationship, we met with the Days in Calgary. Both are in their 80’s. They welcomed us with hugs and Fred’s laughter. We enjoyed a lunch served with stories that brought back happy memories. Following desert, Barb sat at her keyboard and served up melodies that brought us back to our first months together. She sang a song she composed.
There was something richly sacred about the experience. We prayed together, hugged, made promises to connect soon and headed north towards home.
Everyone should have someone like Fred and Barb Day in their lives. We are grateful God gave them to us.
Do you know the Days? Please leave a comment for them. And leave a comment about someone you are grateful to for their influence in your life.
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How wonderful that you were able to have that reunion! I remember Fred and Barb with great fondness and gratitude for their steadfast example to me as a new believer many years ago. They’re a beautiful couple, inside and out
I remember the laugh , smile and firm handshake. And his congratulations when Stephane and I got engaged. And I recall speaking with Barb over the phone, about joining the choir. She knew my sister Betty, and asked if I could sing while crying, like my sister. I think I told her that I had. Lots of singing happened at Lakeshore.
This was a great reminder of how we influence each other while we go through life together. Thanks for sharing from experience.
I remember all that singing! Fond memories.