October 21, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
47°F

Medina pastor: ‘It’s a blessing to be able to preach for 50 years’

The Rev. John R. Peterson, senior pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church, chats with 4-year-old Zoey Bass, daughter of Timothy Bass, an associate pastor of the church, 901 W. Liberty St., Medina. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

The Rev. John R. Peterson, senior pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church, chats with 4-year-old Zoey Bass, daughter of Timothy Bass, an associate pastor of the church, 901 W. Liberty St., Medina. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Fifty years ago, the Rev. John R. Peterson received his calling.

All this month, his congregation at Fellowship Baptist Church, 901 W. Liberty St., has been celebrating his five decades behind the pulpit.

Peterson, who took over at Fellowship Baptist 31 years ago, said becoming a minister was the will of God.

“I got my calling when I was 20 years old,” he said. “The Lord called me. I prayed about it, and he told me to do it.”

Peterson, who moved from Buffalo, New York, to Medina, said he was glad to have dedicated his life to spreading the word of God.

“It’s a blessing to be able to preach for 50 years,” he said. “If he hadn’t meant for me to do it this long, I wouldn’t still be doing it 50 years later.”

Peterson became the Fellowship Baptist Church’s second senior pastor in 1983, a year after he married his wife, Senesa Peterson. He succeeded the Rev. John Medley, who founded the church.

Peterson, 70, has no plans to retire.

“I’m going to keep on going until I can’t anymore,” he said. “I’m not sick or nothing, so I believe I’ve still got some good years left in me.”

His congregation spent the Sunday commemorative service thanking God for bringing Peterson to them and worshipping with song:

Open the floodgates of heaven
Let it rain, let it rain
I feel the rain
It’s raining
Open the floodgates of heaven
Let it rain, let it rain

A friend of Peterson from Buffalo, the Rev. Ivey Daniels, came to Medina to help celebrate the milestone and delivered the sermon.

“Fifty years is a long time to do anything,” Daniels told the churchgoers. “You have a great pastor: He loves God’s people.”

Daniels detailed how much times have changed since Peterson took to the priesthood — including developments like outlawing segregation, huge hikes in gas prices, currency inflation, the increasing prevalence of same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.

“Things are not like they used to be,” Daniels said. “But I’m happy to say the gospel of Jesus Christ is still appropriate for the time we’re living.

“Time and years don’t change the message.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.