First Baptist Names Revitalization Pastor

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
First Baptist Church of Warsaw unanimously voted for Thomas Renfro to be its Revitalization Pastor on December 13, 2019. He had been filling in at First Baptist’s pulpit since October 20 in the absence of a regular pastor. Church elders and the congregation saw him as the answer to making their church come alive again so it would have an impact on the community.
His successful experience with senior citizen congregations in Kansas and Georgia has given him preparation to work with First Baptist of Warsaw that has a mostly elderly congregation. He served for over four years at River Boulevard Baptist Church and Mount Washington Baptist Church, in Independence, MO. The latter was a mission church that had at one time been one of the largest churches in the area, but had dwindled down to about a dozen senior citizens who thought it would have to be disbanded. Pastor Renfro was active in merging the church with another congregation (New Home Baptist Church) and it became an active, growing ministry.
“It was significant that the church turned around from people meeting in the basement, and ready to give up,” said Pastor Renfro. “A lot of people in communities have looked at seniors as a negative, and I think God has lain on my heart the ministering to a senior flock. It hasn’t taken me very long to realize that a lot of seniors in this community feel isolated. Some feel that way because grown children have moved to larger cities and only visit once or twice a year. I am trying to figure out how to be a place they can go to where someone cares about them.”
Pastor Renfro says he wants to minister to seniors in his church as well as their peers in the community. He has found that going to the Warsaw Senior Center once a week for lunch with some of his congregation has opened a way for him to do that.
“I want to find a way to connect with other people who are on a mission similar to mine, because I know there are some already out there,” said Pastor Renfro. “I don’t want to duplicate what they are doing, but want to figure where the gaps are. I am working for goals in 2020 and beyond, and the one major thing I am focusing on is to be the best senior ministry that you can be. “
Pastor Renfro and his wife, Cindy, have been looking for a church home in the Warsaw area. When they lived near Kansas City, and Cindy was working as a church pianist, they were not able to attend Sunday School classes and connect with many of the congregation at their church. When Cindy decided to give up her pianist job, it opened up the opportunity to find a church home in the Warsaw area where they have relatives and have a background as weekenders. 
“I also believe that it has been God’s provision to prepare me for my current situation,” said Pastor Renfro. “I have been bi-vocational for a long time, working full time as a college professor and working as a pastor less than full time. When I had an opportunity for early retirement as a college professor, it provided me the opening to serve full time as a pastor. As our situation now stands, I take off Monday and Tuesdays to visit my wife who is a paraprofessional and assistant music teacher at Sumner Academy in Kansas who plays piano for performances. She, in turn, spends her Fridays and weekends with me in Warsaw, and she plays the organ at First Baptist. We enjoy the smaller congregation and ability to connect with everyone.”
Pastor Renfro was first licensed to the Gospel Ministry in 1980 at First Southern Baptist, Stockton, Missouri. He is a 1983 graduate of Southwest Baptist University at Bolivar, Missouri, and attended Southern Seminary in Louisville, and New Orleans Baptist Theological at the Atlanta campus. He is also a 1998 graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Kansas City, Missouri. 
Pastor  Renfro and his wife have three adult children and four grandchildren.