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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 3, 2009

Pastor Green, left with Lyon’s legacy,
leads Westerlo’s Baptist Church in his own way

By Zach Simeone

WESTERLO — It’s been almost a year since Donald Lyon retired from his 27-year career as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Westerlo, but attendance is on the rise following the arrival of his successor, Brian Green.

“I think, after being without a pastor for a good year, they held together pretty well,” Green said of the church this week. “But they needed a little lift, and I think they feel as though they have that.”

The church is a center of community life in Westerlo, with youth programs and frequent social events.

Originally from Beverly, Mass., Green spent the last 21 years as co-pastor at the First Evangelical Free Church of Maine, located in Westbrook, just outside of Portland. He gave his first sermon in Westerlo on Sept. 6, but Green is still getting into the small-town mindset, he said.

“Coming from Portland, Maine to rural Westerlo, there’s a bit of a learning curve for me,” Green, 49, said with a laugh. “Right now, I’m trying to get my head around who this church is — what’s their identity? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they doing that’s effective, and what are some other ways we might be more effective in meeting the needs of the surrounding area? I’m still in the evaluation stage on that one.”

He came to Westerlo, in part, because he was looking for change.

“There was a change going on in me, from God, to take on a personal need for taking a congregation to the next step,” Green said. “It was shared leadership in Portland; this was a chance to step up and lead a whole congregation, and it seemed like a good fit.”

One of any pastor’s duties in that leadership role is his delivery of a weekly sermon, which, for Green, takes between 15 and 20 hours of preparation, he said.

“Usually, I come up with a sermon series,” said Green. “Right now, we’re doing a series on looking at Jesus in relationships — how he interacted with people. And there are certain passages in the New Testament that would address that. And, from that passage, I boil down for each week what that passage means; what does it mean for us today?”

For his next sermon series, Green will turn to the Book of Ecclesiastes, he said, “and I’ll just take that chapter by chapter.”

Green admits he was intimidated initially by the thought of following in the footsteps of a long-term pastor like Lyon, but he did not feel pressured by the church to fill his shoes.

“As Don Lyon would say himself, ‘They’re not for you to fill,’ and that’s true,” said Green. “Certainly, I wish to carry on that which he has begun, but it’s going to look different, because it’s me — my personality, my strengths…I’m my own person, and that’s all they want me to be.”

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