The Deacons recommend to the congregation that we license John DeWitt to the Gospel Ministry. Copies of his testimony and materials explaining licensure are available in the Commons and below. A short Special Business Meeting to vote on this recommendation will take place in March 28, druing wendesday night prayer meeting.

Guidelines for Ministerial Licensing at Second Baptist Church

Presented by the Deacons for Congregational Approval

At a Called Business Meeting on April 17, 2013, 6:40 before Prayer Meeting

  1. We recognize two formal Baptist means of endorsing a candidate for ministry. They are licensing and ordination. Licensing and ordination are not reserved only for those who are called to preach and/or pastor a church. Those who feel called to serve with music, students, education, or other common areas of ministry within the church may also be licensed and/or ordained.
  2. As a rule, licensing is for those who have recently been called to the ministry. It may be a step toward ordination, but not necessarily so. Licensing accomplishes two main purposes. It serves as a formal recognition of an individual’s gifts and calling to ministry, and it may provide a person with some credentials to carry out certain rites and ceremonies, such as weddings.
  3. Someone who is feeling a call to vocational Christian ministry should talk with the Senior Pastor as part of the discernment of that calling. Once a call is discerned the candidate should publicly share that calling with the congregation by coming forward during the Hymn of Decision. The Senior Pastor and staff will continue to help guide the candidate through educational and mentoring steps toward pursuing this calling.
  4. Licensing will normally be considered once a candidate has enrolled in seminary, but sometimes it may come during college or after seminary. At the appropriate time either the Senior Pastor or the candidate may initiate the process of licensing.
  5. If the Senior Pastor feels the candidate is ready for licensing, the candidate will write up his/her testimony of a call to vocational ministry. This testimony will be shared with the Deacons, and afterward, the Senior Pastor will recommend to the Deacons that the candidate be licensed. The Deacons will vote to recommend to the congregation that the candidate be licensed.
  6. Pending a positive vote by the congregation, the candidate will be presented with a Certificate of License during a worship service. A special prayer of blessing and commissioning will be prayed for the candidate and their spouse if married. The license would read something like this: “This is to certify that [candidate’s name], as one who has given evidence of a calling by God into vocational Christian Ministry was licensed and encouraged to exercise his/her gifts for ministry for building up the Body of Christ by Second Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, [date].” Signed by the Clerk, Chair of Deacons and Senior Pastor
  7. The congregation should continue to support the licensed minister in his/her educational and vocational pursuits. The Missions Council will consider all of our seminary students for ministerial educational grants. Licensing is not a requirement for these grants.
  8. Should the licensed minister decide not to pursue vocational ministry, he/she should turn back in their license to Second Baptist Church. The congregation maintains the authority to revoke a ministerial license should the minister’s morality or theology so require it.
  9. These guidelines shall be administered by, and may be amended from time to time by, the


Dear Congregation,

Over the years God has called a number of Second Baptist members into vocational ministry. Numerous pastors, missionaries, denominational servants, seminary professors, student ministers and other church workers have come out of our congregation. Currently we have five students completing their Master of Divinity degrees, one working on his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies, and five completing a Spanish language diploma in church planting. Thank the Lord for how he continues to use Second Baptist to develop vocational leaders for the church!

The need is so great for called and trained ministers: today in our country “demand” is significantly greater than “supply.” I believe that there is even more that God can do through Second Baptist to help some of our members discern vocational ministerial calling. We can continue to provide opportunities to discern gifts and calling. We can give opportunities for leadership, academic and missions development. We can continue to provide ministerial grants to our seminary students. We can continue to have beautiful ordination services for our seminary graduates who are called to churches, schools and missions. And we can further nurture a “culture of call” by implementing a process of Ministerial Licensing for those who are in seminary.

Ministerial Licensing is an old Baptist process that is not used as much as it used to be. Most early Virginia Baptist pastors (or “elders” as they were often called) were licensed before they were ordained. Some of the ordained ministers in our congregation were first licensed; others, including me, were ordained without ever being licensed. I think licensing merits a renewal, and so I proposed to the Deacons that we restart this old practice. At their encouragement I also proposed some guidelines. The Deacons changed some things, endorsed the concept and Guidelines, and wanted the congregation to also approve this approach.

Ministerial Licensing is a way that the developing minister can further share and clarify calling. It helps the congregation to bless, encourage and celebrate a calling. And it is something of a “learner’s permit” for the licensee to begin to exercise some clergy roles, as authorized by the congregation.

I pray that as we consider reestablishing a formal process of Ministerial Licensing, God will work through this to help “call out the called” and bless them in their preparation.

With a pastor’s love,

Craig A. Sherouse


Brydon John DeWitt Testimony and Call Story

I have believed in Jesus all of my life, but until recent years I have not had a personal relationship with Christ. I was baptized when I was seven years old. I don’t believe, at that time, I fully understood what it meant to be a Christ follower. I knew all of the Sunday School answers to the questions that were posed to me by my pastor to see if I understood, but I didn’t truly understand the concept. The transformation of becoming a true Christ follower was a several year process. I was bullied out of school in the seventh grade and harbored hate in my heart for about a year. I forgave my transgressors through the power of prayer and the power of Jesus Christ. I was free for the first time in this period, but I still did not have a personal relationship with Christ. In the 9th grade I was in an ATV accident, we hit a mud puddle, the driver over corrected, and we flipped. I woke up pinned under the vehicle with a roll bar inches away my neck. If I had been thrown from the vehicle a fraction of a second later I would have been killed. On the way to the hospital I knew that God saved me. He saved me so that I could live with him and do his will. I lost sight of the miracle that was done for me in a matter of months. I found myself in a hospital bed that October because I felt as if I was worthless. I remember that night God reminded me of everything that he had done from me including that he had now saved my life twice. On this hospital bed I felt the overwhelming peace of God and He placed a calling on my life, to be a minister to serve those who had experienced similar situations to my own.

Though I am far from a perfect Christian. I have tried to live in accordance to God’s will ever since that night. I have been mentored by seasoned and young ministers alike and I have served at two churches as an intern. Through these experiences, God has further affirmed his call on my life.