Heyburn Bi-vocational Pastors

You might say the Heyburn Church is a guinea pig, but you won’t find the members complaining. The Idaho Conference has appointed its first bi-vocational pastors, Tom Edie and Jerry Lankford.

While this has been common in some denominations for a long time, only a few Adventist churches have tried it. When Brian Yarbrough was called to the Vale-Ontario district in November 2002, the conference lacked the money to replace him with a full-time pastor. Other conferences in the United States have tried the bi-vocational approach, and the Heyburn members were willing (maybe even eager) to give it a try.

Edie and Lankford both have full-time jobs within the community. Pastoring is a little like a second job for them. They do visiting, give Bible studies, preach sermons and oversee the church in general on a part-time basis. The membership supports this new arrangement is doing well spiritually and socially.

Edie is in management with the Boise Paper Solutions plant in Burley. Several years ago, he was working in production at the same plant. When he became convicted he should no longer work on Sabbath, his supervisor gave him the job of rebuilding pallets for the plant. The work was outside, and he worked alone. If the supervisor intended to make Edie rethink his position about the Sabbath, he didn’t understand Edie very well. Edie turned his “position” into a money maker for the company. And on his own time, he learned a lot about computers. When the plant had a problem in that area, Edie was able to provide a solution. Now he has a better position than the one he “lost” to keep the Sabbath.

Lankford joined the church in 1973 following a Voice of Prophecy evangelistic series presented by Dick Rentfro in California. At the time he worked at a Ford assembly plant. The first Friday following his baptism came. He had discussed with his foreman that he needed to leave at a specified time. The foreman assured him relief would be there. The time came, and no relief showed up. Jerry walked off the line and clocked out. That meant cars were going down the line without the parts he was installing. He could have lost his job, but the Lord was watching it all. Relief was always there on Friday after that.

Edie and Lankford have made strong commitments to serving the Lord and preparing for His return. Both are meeting the challenges of pastoring with much prayer and study, and with the support of the conference office and local church members.

October 01, 2003 / Idaho Conference