Placement Experiences: Thomas and Bryan

Monday, 25th March 2024
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Placement Experiences: Thomas and Bryan

Thomas Harpur

My name is Thomas Harpur, and I am a part time (mature) student currently in my second year of studies at the Irish Baptist College. I am married to Dawn, and we have three grown up children and two grandchildren. We are members of Cookstown Baptist Church.

Placement for me has been a real eye opener as I have been constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness as He equips me to serve Him.

I am on placement in Tobermore Baptist Church under the supervision of Pastor Alan Dundas and Assistant Pastor Luke Keys, who have made me feel at home in Tobermore as have the elders, deacons, and wider church family. Placement has given me the opportunity to lead church services, to preach at both morning and evening services and to take midweek meetings, which has included leading a four-week study on Paul’s letter to Philemon. Other speaking engagements have included the Senior Citizens Christmas dinner, as well as Youth Fellowship and Youth Club meetings.

I have especially enjoyed the pastoral visits and have always felt that I have been the one blessed and encouraged after each visit. It is a privilege to be warmly welcomed into someone’s home for a friendly chat and to share God’s word and pray.

Placement year is not without its challenges as I negotiate my role as student assistant at Tobermore Baptist, my college and secular work, whilst keeping up with my responsibilities in my home church in Cookstown alongside the usual day to day duties at home, but it has been a really rewarding experience, one that I will never forget.

I am so grateful to Pastor Alan for his mentoring, encouragement, and friendship, (and Heather for her gorgeous meals). Also, for Pastor Luke and his wife Emily, for making me feel part of the team, and to the Elders, Deacons and wider church family of Tobermore Baptist for being such an encouragement, and for making me feel so welcome.


Bryan Cruise

My name is Bryan Cruise, and the Lord has been very kind to me by allowing me to spend my second year placement at Grange Baptist Church, under Pastor Peter Craig and the eldership. As someone who is aspiring to be in pastoral ministry full–time, Pastor Craig’s instruction these past several months has been indispensable, and although a short blog post is not enough to describe the practical truths that have been applied to me, I will share some lessons that I’ve learned while on my placement.

First, I have been re–learning this fundamental truth: before pastors are pastors, they are Christians. Before you dismiss this point as obvious and skip to the next paragraph, consider the office. Unlike any other profession, gospel ministry requires personal holiness on the part of the individual. This is the first and most important lesson for an aspiring pastor to learn.

Throughout my placement, I have been able to watch Pastor Craig live out the gospel. I see him reading, preaching, praying, singing, discussing, and living the Word. Week after week, I have watched him conduct himself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). Pastor Craig and I shared numerous hours conversing about life and ministry. In him, I found a tremendous resource of rich pastoral wisdom and insight, and a welcome sounding board for helping me process my experiences.

In addition, since a certain ease and presence of mind before people is necessary for almost any form of leadership in the church, it has been of special importance for me to cultivate an effective manner of leading in worship. As much as possible, I have been given responsibility for leading the congregation in worship. Sometimes this has been a challenge. But that challenge has stretched me. It’s also been most beneficial to interact with the congregation, people of all ages and backgrounds. Getting to know, appreciate and build relationships with these people is a big part of what placement is all about. As I spent time with these individuals, sometimes serving alongside them, sometimes serving them directly, it brought to me such a burning desire for God’s people; a desire to love, preach the gospel to, and teach them the whole counsel of God as a shepherd of the flock.

My placement at Grange Baptist Church also afforded me a front row seat to many of the exciting ways in which God is using this local church to reach their surrounding community with the message of the gospel. They are a congregation of saints who are committed to the glory of God, to the truth of his word, to praying for the lost, and to regularly evangelising the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Much more could be said of what I learned during my placement. However, in conclusion, my placement experience has been a transformative journey. There are many practical things a Bible college cannot teach you for the role of pastor, therefore placement has proved to be an invaluable experience in which I not only learned many vital lessons about pastoring but also had the chance to witness, first hand, the encouraging work that God is gradually accomplishing in Grange.

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