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East County Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014 3 years ago

Church hires first senior pastor

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — In the past year, Doug Yoder had plenty of unsettling moments.

They came during the first business meeting Lakewood Ranch Baptist held as its own church body, after separating amicably from Sarasota Baptist in the summer. Yoder suddenly realized the newly formed church had a three-year lease, plenty of debt and no leader.

And they came again when the church’s pastoral search committee took extra time praying to pick the right pastor. By the time Christmas and New Year’s Day rolled around, the church had gone six more months without a senior pastor and committee members had barely narrowed the applicant pool.

“It taught me you have to rely on the people in leadership; you have to trust them,” Yoder said.

And now, after becoming its own church July 1 and having an interim pastor for 15 months, Lakewood Ranch Baptist has hired its first senior pastor.

The Rev. Lance Stack, previously with Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., will lead his first service March 16 with a sermon series titled, “Crossing the River: Facing the Future with Confidence.”

The church will host an honorary post-service lunch with Stack, and the community is welcome to attend.

Organizers request that guests RSVP online at the church’s website,, for lunch, but reservations are not required.

Stack, who arrives to the area Friday and will be joined by his family — wife, Jessica, and their children, Noah, Elijah and Hadasah — after his wife finishes her graduate degree in about two months, comes to Lakewood Ranch to lead a church of about 300 members, compared with the 7,000 members at Shandon Baptist. There, about 1,000 people were included in the ministries he oversaw.

Stack will assume his first senior pastor role at Lakewood Ranch Baptist.

Martin Vreman, pastor search committee chairman, said a core group of church members have worked hard to maintain and build ministries in the absence of a senior pastor, but members are excited to be united under the direction of one leader.

“We weren’t visionless, but we lacked that person who could pull (all the ministries) together,” Vreman said. “We needed that leader who could unite all the different aspects of the church.”

Stack said he has an entrepreneurial spirit and said helping the church form its identity is a challenge to which he looks forward.

“To lead them and set the tone of who that church is going to be — that’s an exciting opportunity for me,” Stack said.

Stack said he was impressed with church members’ dedication to prayer, the community and each other — all of which confirmed his decision to lead the congregation.

“They love God and they love their community and that is about the best resource a church can have,” Stack said.

Welcome Lunch
Lakewood Ranch Baptist Church will hold a welcome luncheon for The Rev. Lance Stack, its new senior pastor, after its 10:30 a.m. service March 16 at the church, 5600 Deer Drive, Sarasota. Lunch, which is open to the public, will begin around noon.

Guests should RSVP at

About The Rev. Lance Stack
Lance Stack comes to Lakewood Ranch Baptist after serving at Shandon Baptist Church, in Columbia, S.C., for seven years, most recently overseeing the church’s young adults and prayer ministries.

He and his wife, Jessica, have three children: twin boys, Noah and Elijah, and daughter, Hadasah.
Stack was born and raised in Missouri and he attended Truman State University, where he ran two years on a track scholarship. He transferred to Dallas Baptist University and later attended Southwestern Seminary, from which he graduated in 2004.

He pastored at Wedgewood Baptist in Fort Worth, Texas, before moving to Shandon.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].


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