2013 News


First Church welcomes two new pastors to staff

The Lord has done marvelous things for us and we are filled with joy. (Ps. 126:3)

Two big advances are coming to FPC soon! This August sees the arrival of our new Mission Pastor, James Estes; and this September, we welcome our new co-pastor, Ryan Moore!

I join many here at FPC who are thrilled by both of these developments. Ryan and James (and their families) will add much to the Lord’s work here in Tulsa.

A congregational meeting is set for Sunday, August 11 at 10:50 a.m. to act upon both the Co-Pastoral and Associate Pastoral Search committee reports. Let me speak briefly to both of these positions – and the pastors who have been called to serve in them.


Co-Pastor? Really? That’s a bold move! So said a few PCUSA colleagues in Atlanta when I told them that FPC, Tulsa, was moving to a very different co-pastoral model of leadership. And their use of “bold” was not necessarily a positive. They meant “bold” as in rash, or naïve, or crazy.

“Ah,” I said. “It’s not rash or naïve – way too much prayer and strategic planning and orchestrated grace have gone into this for it to be that!”

The congregation’s energized response when Shannon Bair announced Ryan as the Pastoral Nominating Committee’s choice for co-pastor was simply confirming of this.

As for me, I’ve never been more excited about a season of ministry than I am right now.

And I’m thrilled about serving side by side with Ryan Moore. His love for the Church, his exceptional gifts as preacher and teacher are obvious. We’ve worked closely together; we respect each other; we bring different gifts. Most importantly, we love each other.

I had a friend who came to me recently and said, “Can you feel the ‘surge?’” When I asked her to clarify, she added with emphasis: “I feel as if our church is experiencing a ‘spiritual surge’; I can truly feel it. It’s like a wave of energy, and I think it’s a new uprising of the Spirit in, and through, and among us. And it’s not just internal. I think we’re poised to reach a whole new level of outreach and mission.”

Poised. What a great word. And I think she’s right. First Church is poised – like a big cat on its haunches – for a whole new chapter of ministry. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous to see.

Ryan and Heather and their two boys, Elijah and Jonah, will arrive in Tulsa (Lord willing!) around the first of September.

Ryan will preach his first sermon on Sunday, September 8, at our Festival Sunday celebration (when all the FPC worshipping congregations join together at 10:50). We’ll enjoy a brunch on Boston before worship and a fun reception for the Moores immediately following.

I look forward to this new “co-pastoral” role!

Mission Pastor!

Urban outreach. Local ministry. Global mission. That’s the call that brings James Estes and his wife Lindsey to First Church, Tulsa.

James brings a heart for the Lord, an evangelist’s fervor and a passion for “extending the gospel footprint” through witness, service, ministry and care. Ryan Moore remembers him as one of FPC’s favorite Summer Theological Roundtable leaders when James lived here some years ago. To me, he’s a passionate and authentic Apprentice to the Master, keen to be His witness in a hurting world.

James has a BA degree in Psychology from Langston University and a Master of  Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has had four units of Clinical Pastoral Education, worked in a hospital as a chaplain, served in a weekly homeless outreach, worked with Street Youth Ministries in Seattle and served on staff at the Korean United Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh while a student in seminary.

“I hope to serve a church that passionately, joyfully, lifts up Jesus Christ,” says James, “that all might be drawn to Him, and to be part of the community which seeks to be a mission outpost of proclamation and service.”

He offers this understanding of leadership: “Leadership as modeled by Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet, which is only one more way to say that leadership is service. Thus, my goal as a pastor is to lift others above myself, to honor others before myself and long for each member of the church to live into the fullness of their identity in Christ.”

Those who came to know James when he lived here in Tulsa will tell you that he has a professor’s love for theology and a desire that all of us come to a better understanding of the world that we meet at the foot of the cross.

Gifted as a preacher and teacher, blessed with a fun and winsome personality, he will be embraced here at First Church.

James and Lindsey (a wonderfully gifted woman in her own right!) were married just about a year ago. They are expecting their first child sometime in late July. So the FPC young couples have another cheerleader!

I join many who are eager to welcome James onto the FPC staff and watch his gifts go to work for Christ’s sake – strengthening us to serve and advancing this outpost of God’s Kingdom – into His broken world!