BROOKSVILLE — When members of the First Baptist Church of Brooksville asked the Rev. Eddie Gandy to become their full-time pastor last year, he turned them down.
He'd ventured out of retirement to serve as their interim pastor while they searched for a new senior pastor to replace the Rev. Matt Ellis, who'd left for a church in Murray, Ky.
Having already been a full-time minister for about 40 years, serving with his wife, Carmen, by his side on the pastoral staff of five different churches, Gandy wasn't ready to do more than fill the pulpit on Sundays.
"Look, I'm 68. I don't want to do committee meetings and budget planning," Gandy said he told the church. "I didn't have the energy or strength or the desire. My passion is preaching. I love it. That's what God has called me to do."
Not easily dissuaded, and happy to have had him in their pulpit for the past year, the church asked Gandy if he'd reconsider taking a permanent position if they could find someone else to handle the business of the church and other duties.
Gandy said "maybe."
Meanwhile, Aaron Odom, the worship pastor at Northcliffe Baptist Church (where Gandy was a member and had served in the choir) had begun to feel that God was leading him toward leading his own church.
With two master's degrees in music and a long list of credentials as a classically trained concert and recording artist, he began studies last year to add a masters in theological studies. This was a big change of direction for Odom; his wife, P.J.; and their 9-year-old son, Ramsey.
Wanting to be sure his leading was from God, Odom approached Gandy, who'd often been a mentor to him, for his advice.
"Pastor Eddie loves the community and has a passion for the people at the church," Odom, 38, said. "I think he had a belief that he was equipped to help (First Baptist) at this juncture. At the same time, he felt he may not have the energy to be here every day of the week. He got to thinking about me and the things I'd shared with him months ago."
It was a no-brainer, really. Gandy wanted to preach. Odom wanted to serve as a pastor. It seemed the perfect solution for the First Baptist Church.
On May 16, both men were officially called at a church business meeting, Gandy as senior pastor and Odom as executive pastor. Also joining the leadership team was a new youth director, Greg Shaw, the grandson of a previous church pastor .
"We are so excited with these pastors and received them with open arms," said Cindy Lyman, office manager for the church. "We can feel the energy around here."
Gandy continues to fill the pulpit for preaching. Odom handles the day-to-day operations of the church and serves as worship leader.
Gandy said Odom is the visionary.
"We want to touch the world where the world lives," Gandy says. "I'm clueless about how to do that. Aaron knows how. We have the same vision. He just has the know-how."
Younger and technically savvy, Odom has already revamped the church website and created a new logo. He's also setting up new "life groups" that will begin in August and has arranged a mission trip. Last Friday he sang, played the guitar and gave his testimony to the youth group.
"Today I was helping a guy on the praise team move furniture," Odom said. "So, we're busy and getting things done and the people are excited."
Gandy said the goal is to bring Christ to where the people are and make it come alive.
The church's focus, Gandy said, is to "win the lost and edify the saints through ministry and missions."
"We can't be all things to all people," Gandy said, "But we can reflect Christ in all things and that's what we really want to try to do."
Added Odom: "The church is alive and on fire. Come and see!"