By Lucas Vader
As the stay-at-home order was going into effect, and churches all over the state were forced to close their doors to the public, the First Baptist Church of Cedaredge welcomed a new pastor, who stepped in on March 17. In-person church service will resume Sunday.
Pastor Jake Wyatt, his wife, his three sons and two daughters made the move from the area of Bentonville, Arkansas, to Cedaredge to take the place of long-time pastor Dik Abbott, who retired in early March. He and his family took the opportunity to be a part of the First Baptist Church through connections in the area while they were on vacation in Westcliffe — about four hours from Cedaredge by vehicle.
“Through connections there, the people who were at the church, they were like ‘Hey, would you be interested in this?’ and the Lord just continued to open that door,” Wyatt said.
With his new role of guiding the First Baptist Church through the Bible, Wyatt lives with the philosophy that being a pastor of a church isn’t just a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s something that isn’t just on his mind 9-to-5 each day, or something he leaves behind in his office when it’s time to go home. It never has been, not since he started going into full-time ministry during his junior year of high school.
“You cannot just say ‘Okay, I work 40 hours,’” Wyatt said. “It’s a lifestyle. Every time you’re with people, you see people, you pray, and when you’re done at the office, then you have your ministry to your family.”
With ministry experience in Colorado, Arkansas and Texas, Wyatt came to town with big plans for the little church, many of which were delayed by COVID-19 restrictions. As the town opens up, he hopes to introduce a youth group aspect to the church in which elementary-age children and teenagers can have a place to belong. He assured that he isn’t trying to compete with other youth groups in town, but he noticed that youth programming is something the First Baptist Church currently lacks.
Like everything else Wyatt plans to do, the church’s youth programming will keep younger generations in touch with the Word of God, while also having games and general fellowship.
“Periodically, you do youth activities and have a fun time with teenagers, but everything you do — the most important thing to me is the Word of God, the teaching of the Word of God,” Wyatt said, “but I love having fun with people, so Lord willing, when things open up, we’ll be doing different youth activities where we invite the teens in our community to come, like things I’ve done in the past. We’ve done Jell-O extravaganzas where we do all kinds of games with Jell-O and then we talk about the word of God.”
Wyatt also mentioned the plan for lock-ins, where the youth hang out overnight and play games, likely at the beginning of three-day holiday weekends, for example.
At a church the size of the First Baptist Church, Wyatt is the only pastor. There is no separate youth pastor or assistant pastors. As ministry is his lifestyle, he’s dividing his time between all departments of the congregation.
As Wyatt pointed out, it’s always the Bible’s examples he’ll be following.
“The first great commandment is love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” Wyatt said, while the second commandment goes hand-in-hand with that. “You should love thy neighbor as yourself, so as we come into pastoring the church, we’re going to love God and love people.”
In regards to people joining or continuing to participate in the First Baptist Church congregation, Wyatt said, updated information will be coming soon to the church’s Facebook page, “First Baptist Church/Cedaredge,” as he’s going to start updating the page. Also, the sign in front of the church will display important information and current messages about upcoming events.
Most front and center, Wyatt invited the community to church. In-person church starts at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, May 31.
“We’re excited to meet everybody in the town and we plan to do events in the park to reach out to the elementary kids, do stuff to reach out to the youth, do stuff to reach out to college people,” Wyatt said. “We’ll do things to shepherd the flock that we have currently, to love them, minister to them, we pray for the community, we pray for tons of people, pray for our commissioners. We’re going to be involved.”