Embrace Baltimore

Spotlight on New Baltimore Pastors

by Sharon Mager, BBA Correspondant

God is blessing Baltimore with new pastors. Three of those highlighted here are “homegrown,” and one is from Texas. All of them are excited to be ministering in the area and have fresh Holy Spirit driven plans to engage their communities and share the Gospel of Jesus.

First Baptist Church of Brooklyn
Ronjour Locke, pastor of First Baptist Church, Brooklyn, said it was absolutely providential that he and his wife, Annie, came to Baltimore. 

“When Annie and I were dating, we would go out on Monday mornings to McDonald’s and dream together. We’d take a napkin, and make a time line ... I wish I had kept some of them. Sitting there, we talked about where we would love to serve the Lord. 

“We both said Baltimore,” Locke said, but they didn’t know why. 

“So when Brooklyn called for us, we just stood back and said, ‘Lord, are we really going to go to Baltimore?’”

Locke said that if God had not called them to Brooklyn, they would have still prayed regularly for the people. “We just loved everyone from day one,” he said. “It wasn’t one of those things like, ‘I can pastor here.’ For me it was ‘I want to pastor here!’” 

The 30-year-old pastor grew up in St. Mary’s County. He graduated from Washington Bible College where he met Annie. The couple moved to Pennsylvania where Locke served as associate pastor for an Evangelical Free Church before moving to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

Locke said he’s impressed by the diversity of the area. On their own street he sees Anglos, Hispanics and African Americans. The church is a mixture of old and young from varying socio-economic groups.

The church began in 1916. “It has a rich heritage in terms of folks being faithful to the church. Some folks are second and third generation members. That’s good,” Locke said. “They blend well with the members who have been at the church for just five or six years,” he said. 

That great diversity, “... goes right at the heart of what Christ is doing in his work bringing people from all tribes, languages and nations into His kingdom,” Locke said. 

Locke grew up through generations of believers. He professed his faith in Christ as a child, but it wasn’t until high school that he fully understood the Gospel.

“Even though I could recite the Gospel, I hadn’t really placed my faith in the Lord. I acted like I did. I knew everything, but hadn’t believed anything.” 

After he felt the call to ministry, Locke said he developed a hunger to learn. “I wanted to know everything. The more I studied, the more I wanted to share. It was a process. I don’t know how my parents got through it. I had to be so annoying,” he laughed. 

As pastor of FBC Brooklyn, Locke said he is emphasizing making disciples, helping people recognize how great Jesus is and positioning themselves there to live under Him so people can see how great God is through them. 

Locke and Annie have four children: 5-year-old Joshua, 3-year-old Noah; 2-year-old Mikaiya, and 3-month old Naomi.

Grace Place
Troy McDaniel began his ministry as pastor of Grace Place on New Year’s Day. Grace Place in Dundalk, formerly Woolford Memorial Baptist Church, was a campus location of North Arundel Church in Glen Burnie but has transitioned from being a campus church to becoming autonomous and is considered a new church plant.
McDaniel was born and grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. At 11-years-old, he made a confession of faith in response to a pastor’s message at First Baptist Church, Pocomoke. In 2006, at the age of 37, he felt a call to full-time ministry. McDaniel spoke at various churches on the Eastern Shore until he met Daryl McCready and was invited to intern at Sonrise Church in Berlin. He then began to serve as the associate pastor at Bayside Community Church in Pocomoke, a brand new church plant that launched with twenty core members, had one hundred eighty people at its first review worship service, and had five hundred in attendance for their first Easter service.
McDaniel’s initial plans at Grace Place are to focus on small groups and on children. “We want to really reach out and work hard to establish a good foundation of community.” He also says that most of the churches in the area have a traditional worship style. Grace Place is a contemporary church model targeting people age 50 and younger with children. God is blessing us, he said. Average attendance doubled in eight weeks from launch, growing from 25 the first week to 50 and hitting a high of 95.
McDaniel is a U.S. Army veteran. He has lived in Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Germany and the Middle East. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in pastoral leadership and exposition and is working on his Master of Divinity at Liberty University. 

He and his wife, Samantha, have five children: nine-year-old McKenzi, five-year-old Ezekiel, three-year-old Ian, two-year-old Tally, and three-month-old Mia.
McDaniel told how God changed his and Samantha's lives when they placed Him first after deviating from the correct path. “We had both been living outside of the will of the Lord. We decided to put God first ... to be married under Him; so, we decided we were going to do things right. We got married forty-five days after we met. We took a leap of faith placing ourselves subject to His will and let Him mandate the forward motion of our relationship from that point on. Ever since that day He started removing things from our lives that weren’t good for us, pruning us, and adding what He wanted us to have. So, here we are today and I’m like - wow!  It’s incredible what God is doing through us. Everything fell into place once we put him first.”

Middle River Baptist Church
Glenn Leatherman, pastor of Middle River Baptist Church, might not be a mathematician, but he is very passionate about multiplication … multiplication discipleship, that is. The Texas native believes that there is no more Biblical or effective way to reach the lost community for Christ than to “make disciples who are making disciples.”

“God called me to be a disciple-making pastor,” Leatherman said. He has attended churches with pastors who preach great sermons, members who host exciting small groups and worship services with outstanding music. They may even have discipleship classes, but there is no multiplication effect, hence no disciple making,” Leatherman said. “If we’re not making disciples who are making disciples we’re being disobedient to the Great Commission.”

Leatherman accepted Christ when he was 21, in his senior year of college at Texas A&M. He truly learned how to witness and developed his passion for disciple making and multiplication while working with Campus Crusade. At one outreach, Operation Sonshine in Daytona Beach, Florida, Leatherman said his group shared Christ 516 times and saw 58 people profess faith in Christ. He also learned from Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, that multiplying disciples rather than addition results in larger numbers of true conversions.

“If I led one person to Christ a year, poured my life into them and discipled them and we multiplied ourselves each year after that, through multiplication the 7 billion people in the world right now could be reached in less than 33 years.“

Leatherman attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1991, during the time of the conservative resurgence. “A lot of things were going on during that time, but it was a good time for me to be exposed to more diverse points of view, which strengthened me spiritually. It enabled me to dialogue with diverse groups of people better than I had before.”

He pastored Shavano Baptist Church in San Antonio, then later Brea Center Baptist church in California. He, his wife, Ann, and their two sons, ten-year-old Jonathon Peter and eight-year-old Andrew Ralph, followed God’s call to Maryland and began pastoring Middle River Baptist Church in November. The couple home schools their children and all are still adjusting to life on the East Coast.

“The boys were a little disappointed with Baltimore weather,” Leatherman laughed. “Coming from California, they expected to see snow. That didn’t happen this year.”

Tabernacle Baptist Church, Essex
Andrew Bell, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Essex, began his ministry in a whirlwind first week of June. He started at the church on June 6, just four days before his son, Luke, was born on June 2. Luke was premature and weighed just two pounds, fifteen ounces and spent 48 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

“The first time he was in church, Michelle had him in the back and it was really emotional. I told the church, ‘never let anyone tell you prayer doesn’t work.’” 

Bell said the church showered his family with love through the stressful period and helped the congregation and his family bond.

Bell grew up attending Perry Hall Baptist Church. He made a decision to accept Christ into his life when he was twelve years old at a Word of Life snow camp in New York. After graduating Perry Hall Christian School, Bell returned to New York to study for a year at Word of Life Institute before transferring to Liberty University. He has served in youth ministry at Thomas Road Baptist Church, in Lynchburg, then at College Heights Baptist Church in Alaska. In 2005 he returned to Maryland. He was called to Towne Baptist Church as a youth pastor, before accepting the senior pastor position at Tabernacle Church. 

Bell’s focus is on leadership and training core leaders to be missional. Youth and children’s ministry is also a priority for Bell. He teaches youth Sunday School and has a college Bible study. 

“The congregation sees that it’s really important to me to spend time with the kids.” 

Bell was thrilled when two girls and one boy, triplets, responded last month to an altar call and came to join the church.

The church hosts a Boy Scout troop. Bell occasionally visits at meetings to meet the boys, prays at their banquets and invites the boys and their families to a special Boy Scout Sunday. 

This fall, Tabernacle will serve the community through sports ministry. The church plans to host a monthly sporting event, either soccer, basketball or dodge ball, at a local school. They’ll include a ten-minute devotional. As they meet and mingle with students and parents, they will have an opportunity to build relationships.

The church is working to make contact with every community household. 

“The best outreach is church members,” Bell said. “It’s so simple it’s profound. That’s how I’ve seen many churches grow. One family gets on fire and brings their family and friends. Other people get excited when they see that and start bringing more people.” 

Bell said people are catching the vision and excitement. They’re realizing if they reach out, people will respond. 

"Working with pastors as a DOM is a great privilege. Praying that the Lord will fill vacancies in the BBA with new pastors who have a ‘missional DNA’ has always been a priority of mine, and these have it,” Bob Mackey, Baltimore Association Director of Missions said. “These four gentlemen have a great opportunity to lead their respective churches to touch the world and to join other pastors in the BBA who are already doing the same thing. I look forward to the BBA assisting them as they advance Kingdom causes."