By Brian Koonce
ELSBERRY – David Rubemeyer came late into the ministry.
In his mid-30s and a successful manager in the heating and air conditioning industry, he began battling against God’s call on his life in 2000 before finally accepting it in 2002. A member of First Baptist, O’Fallon, he began training to preach part-time. He came to First Baptist, Elsberry, first as pulpit supply in 2004. In 2006, he returned for supply and has only missed four Sundays since then serving bi-vocationally. He became full-time last October.
But his unconventional path toward the pastorate has been a good fit for the church, which was struggling before he came. He said the church was at one time the flagship church of Twin Rivers Association and the pews were always full.
There were 15 people “left” when he came in 2006. Last year, they baptized 17 and are averaging 62 on Sundays and are still growing.
“It’s nothing we’re doing,” he said, “it’s all God. We’re no more capable than anyone else. I’ve never been to seminary, Bible college or even a secular college for that matter. It’s all God.”
Rubemeyer’s unconventional path to the ministry also helps him work well with Elsberry’s youth minister, Greg Pflaster. He grew up in Elsberry, but was caught up in drug addiction and alcoholism before being “loved into the Kingdom” by co-workers who “wouldn’t quit sharing the Gospel.”
Saved just five and a half years ago, he now owns a pizza place in Elsberry and came to First Baptist after volunteering with students at another church in town.
“I knew God had called me for a purpose, but I didn’t know what that was until the youth ministry,” Pflaster said. “Actually, I wanted God to call me outside of Elsberry, to a contemporary, big church. Instead, He sent me up the street two blocks to a church of 16 people. I didn’t know why God had called me there, but I felt very strong that that’s where He wanted me.”
Pflaster said the youth ministry at First Baptist is very community-oriented. Of the 25-30 that are regularly part of the ministry, only five or six are members of the church.
“It’s a very unique situation,” he said. “It’s not easy, but God called me to love these kids.”
“We’re very blessed first off that our names are written in Heaven, but I feel like we’re also very blessed to be a part of this church,” Rubemeyer said.