First Baptist youth pastor heads to Purdy church
Mackey: ‘They were dead-set I was going to be their next pastor’
Jason Mackey, youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Cassville for more than 16 years, was recently named as the new pastor of Arnhart Baptist Church in Purdy.
The church, which was established in 1877, is more than 200 members strong and growing each week, Mackey said.
“The thing that drew me to Arnhart is that in the last six years, it has experienced nearly a 300-percent growth,” said Mackey. “They built a new sanctuary, which was completed in 2015, and they have people joining every week. Their desire is to change peoples’ lives here in mid-central Barry County, so that was very attractive to be able to come in and pastor a well-established church. It’s a very good church with a long history here in Purdy.”
Mackey credits the late John Duncan, who first hired him as then-pastor of First Baptist Church in Cassville before serving as pastor of Arnhart Church from 2010-2015, for its phenomenal growth.
When Duncan unexpectedly passed away in 2015, Leland May served as interim pastor for 18 months while a new pastor was sought.
“When John took over, they had around 40 people attending, and two weeks ago, they had 210 people, so it’s just a huge amount of growth,” Mackey said. “Arnhart is an old, but young growing church. They have a great big heart, care for people and they just want to make Jesus known and want to impact the community.”
Mackey said the church is extremely active in its immediate community and beyond.
“They participate in the local food pantry and our children’s ministry went to Lacoba Nursing Home in Monett and entertained the residents in the last week alone,” he said. “This summer, they are taking a mission trip to Thailand, and next fall, to Mexico, so missions outreach is what we do here as well. And being a student pastor, student ministry is very important to me.
“We have a group that’s starting to plant some roots, and one of my former students, Maddie Dow and her husband, Tony, are leading that ministry.”
Mackey, a Cassville High School graduate, served as youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Cassville for more than 16 years, where he had between 100 and, at times, almost 200 teenagers attending on Wednesday nights.
“It was difficult to leave First Baptist — it was my home,” Mackey said. “I was not only serving there 16 years, but had volunteered prior to that, and it was my home church and where I’d attended from middle to high school while in school. It was a very sorrowful time, as lots of relationships had been built over the years, but they understood what God was doing and were very gracious toward me as I left and gave me their blessings. I enjoyed my time as youth pastor and liked working with the students.”
“Arnhart contacted me and I turned them down once, but they kept coming back and I finally decided to take a step of faith. They were very passionate about the fact they wanted me to come here and be their pastor.”
“Jason started as our interim youth pastor,” said James Weaver, pastor of First Baptist Church of Cassville. “We don’t have a lot of turnover here, so it’s always bittersweet when someone leaves. In addition to touching the lives of hundred of teenagers, he has been a very big part of our ministry team here, also, as our tech support division in taking care of all of our computing needs so he leaves a huge hole doing that but his main focus has been our teenagers.
“He has been involved in see you at the poll events to teaching abstinence classes at various schools, teaching True Love Waits material, taking kids to youth camp and all kinds of things that youth ministers do in reaching out to kids and making a safe place for them to be, and has done it all with professionalism and excellence. We’re very supportive of his new move and very excited for his new ministry and Arnhart Baptist.”
“Arnhart is a great church,” Mackey said. “They’ve been so loving, gracious and accepting toward me.”
For more information about the church, including service times, people may call 417-442-7115.