Fred W. Andrea III, Ph.D.
A native of Greenville, he was reared in upstate South Carolina. He was graduated from Spartanburg High School, Clemson University, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - from which he received the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
Dr. Andrea has served as pastor of the Rock Creek Baptist Church in Westport, Indiana, the Augusta Heights Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, and the First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia. In addition to his congregational duties, he has taught seminary courses in pastoral ministries.
He is a past President of the Rotary Club of Aiken, a Past-Moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina, and President of the Board of Directors of the Community Care and Counseling Center of Aiken. He served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Aiken County and is a Past Chair of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce. He has provided leadership to numerous church and community boards, agencies, and committees. Andrea, a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and the 2001 Aiken Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, is a contributor to various journals and collections of sermons. He is a weekly newspaper columnist for the Aiken Standard.
He is married to Barbara R. Morgan, a graduate of the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina School of Law. She is the retired Solicitor of the Second Judicial Circuit of South Carolina. She is currently a consultant, entrepreneur, artist, and community volunteer. They are together the parents of four children: Rebecca, who died in 1997; Margaret (Nathan) Campbell, a kindergarten teacher at Aiken's First Baptist Church; Sarah Andrea (Peter Tyliszczak), an elementary school teacher in metro Washington, D.C.; and Morgan Purvis, a businessman in Atlanta.
March 4, 2018
After my first year at college, just as I responded positively to what I clearly perceived to be God’s calling to pastoral ministry, my parents shared with me at our supper table that they were finalizing the purchase of a business in Aiken, South Carolina, and that we would soon be moving to this place—Aiken—about which I knew almost nothing.
Soon thereafter we relocated to Aiken and our family became members of Aiken’s First Baptist Church. Although the move uprooted me from people and places with which I was very familiar, I began to feel with the psalmist that “the lines were falling to me in pleasant places.”
Only with the passing of years have I become convinced that God was at work for good in that major life transition. In divine providence, God introduced me to a people of faith who graced me with encouragement—approving my application to seminary, licensing me to the Gospel ministry, affording me opportunities to lead and serve, and allowing me to preach my first sermon in the very spot where I now stand.
Only God could have had any notion whatsoever that twenty years later, the people of this great congregation would call me to serve as their Pastor. Certainly “the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.”
However, as the wise writer of Ecclesiastes observes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under heaven.”
The time has arrived in our lives for me to do an exceedingly difficult thing. I am today announcing my plan to retire at the end of 2018 as Pastor of Aiken’s First Baptist Church. In consultation with church leaders, my last Sunday in the pulpit will be September 9.
This decision comes as a result of several months of intense soul-searching, struggle, and prayer. We have not proceeded in haste but in deliberate openness to God’s direction. This recent period of seeking the fullness of God’s intention for our lives and for this community of faith has been filled with real anguish. This decision has been particularly difficult because this is home—a place where we are settled and loved. I could hardly wish for a better flock to serve and a people with whom to minister.
This soon-to-be 25 years together as pastor and people have been an incredibly rewarding time, rich beyond measure, with opportunities for broadened competence, deepened insight, and heightened growth. You have been constantly supportive, openly loving, steadfast in your convictions, graciously encouraging, forgiving of fault, and dedicated to the service of God and all those people God loves.
It is a heartache to anticipate retiring from this pastorate. We shall miss many things: hugs, fellowships, food, birthdays, baptisms and Communion, times of great joy and deep despair, high and holy days as well as ordinary time together. Most of all, we will miss you.
After my final Sunday, our relationships will be redefined. We will continue to live in Aiken and remain active in the community. But I will not be your Pastor. I will, however, remain your friend and a strong proponent of this church.
Following the best practice of Baptist tradition in the local church, we will distance ourselves from active participation in the life of the congregation, although the presence of our three favorite grandchildren and their parents will give us a reason to attend some programs in which they are involved.
We do take comfort that relationships in Christ are forever. Christians never really say good-bye. But they do say I love you. And we do love you.
The timing of my announcement—in conjunction with other pastoral and program staff vacancies—will allow the church the fullest freedom and flexibility to pray and ponder intentionally how best to configure the staff in order to engage most effectively and strategically for kingdom missions and ministries. This timing feels that it lies within the providential will and purpose of God.
Retiring from my service as your Pastor is also a retirement to other places and avenues of ministry which will emerge in God’s good and perfect timing. I will not cease to be a minister; my sense of God’s calling remains clear. What lies ahead for me is a re-shaping or re-design of my faithful following of that divine calling. We are grateful for good health and positive energy that allow us to face the future with a spirit of joy and anticipation.
Please know that we shall always love this church. The people of this congregation have graciously grafted our family into the tree of faith and fellowship that was already flourishing here. With deep gratitude, I express appreciation for support and encouragement through all of our family’s life experiences. We pledge to you our earnest prayers as you begin to make the transition to new leadership and as you continue to “carry out Jesus’ great commandment through worshiping, nurturing, ministering, and witnessing, in an inclusive environment.”
I am persuaded that the very best days of this church lie ahead. You will always be a community of faith where lives can be entrusted, where gifts are called forth in service to God and others, and where the enriching love of the Lord is demonstrated. May the lines continue to fall to all of us in pleasant places.
During the months together that stretch before us, I invite you to join me in being faithful to our various ministries. There will be time for other expressions of grief and gratitude. But for now, let us redeem the remainder of our time together by thanking God for all that has been and by rejoicing in what is yet to be.
Yours in the spirit of God’s love,
Fred W. Andrea III