On Jan. 15, the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers delivered his first sermon as senior pastor at Seymour First Baptist Church.
That morning, he began his “Home” sermon series, which had a deeper meaning for him because not only had he found a new home church, but he and his family were back home again in Indiana.
Myers and his wife, Robyn, both are from northern Indiana. He is the son of Teri and Terry Miller of Elkhart, and Robyn is the daughter of Dave and Carolyn Elliott of Syracuse.
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In January, the Myerses and their two children, Mikayla, 13, and Jeremiah “J.J.,” 10, relocated here from St. Albans, West Virginia.
“Robyn and I both graduated from high school in 1999,” Jeremy said. “She graduated from Wawasee High School, and I graduated from Elkhart Baptist Christian School, which is now Elkhart Christian Academy.”
Jeremy and his wife first moved to West Virginia in 2001 right after they got married. They moved there to attend Appalachian Bible College.
“After college, we moved back to Indiana and lived in North Webster for five years,” he said. “I served as an associate pastor at North Webster United Methodist Church before returning to West Virginia in 2010 for work.”
Jeremy served as minister of youth and Christian education at First Baptist Church in St. Albans up until his acceptance of the position at Seymour First Baptist Church, which had been without a senior pastor since Feb. 8, 2015.
The Rev. Bruce Cochran served as senior pastor of the church for 22 years before moving on to serve as region minister for American Baptist Churches of Indiana/Kentucky. He and his wife, Connie, now live in Fishers, close to children and grandchildren in Fort Wayne and Columbus.
Seymour First Baptist Church had been searching for a new senior pastor since the time Cochran left. In the meantime, interim preachers filled in at the pulpit until Jeremy was hired.
The Myers family currently is renting a home in Seymour while trying to sell their house in West Virginia. Adjustments are still being made, particularly at school with their children, Jeremy said. J.J. is a fourth-grader at Emerson Elementary School, and Mikayla is an eighth-grader at Immanuel Lutheran School.
“They are on a different curriculum, and we’re trying to get the kids on the same page as the schools,” Jeremy said.
As for moving here from West Virginia, Jeremy said his children were happy about the move and involved in the process the whole way.
“We haven’t tried to hide anything from them,” he said. “As we began thinking about me making the transition from being a youth pastor to being a lead pastor, we began asking them what they thought, and they were really excited about that.”
J.J. was born in Fort Wayne, and Mikayla spent a lot of time in North Webster, just south of Syracuse. All of their family is in northern Indiana.
Robyn was a babysitter and an assistant preschool teacher in West Virginia before moving back to Indiana.
“For now, I’m going to concentrate on being a great housewife,” Robyn said. “I want to be as involved as I can in the church and the kids’ school.”
Robyn studied music in college and is a talented flutist. She used to teach flute lessons but hasn’t done that in a while. She enjoys playing the flute in church and hopes to find a community band with which to play.
Robyn was a music major when she met Jeremy in a college life class when both were attending Grace College in Winona Lake.
“I was shy, and he was very handsome, and I thought he would never notice me, until spring tour of our freshman year,” Robyn said. “I was in the chamber ensemble, and he was with the chamber singers. We were grouped together and sat next to each other in a van, and the rest is history.”
Now that the family is in Seymour, Robyn said it feels like she is coming home, and she is excited to be closer to family and to be in a state that she loves and considers home.
Jeremy also is settling into his new position as a senior pastor. The biggest difference between his last job and the new one is that in West Virginia, most of his focus was on the youth, ages 11 through 25.
“A good portion of my direct responsibility was training up youth and teenagers,” he said. “Also, helping college students maintain a connection while they were away at college. Time was also invested in parents, helping them communicate with their students and make connections with them.”
He had been a lead associate before but never lead pastor.
“The big thing as a lead pastor is that you’re entrusted with a portion of the vision of the church,” he said.
Besides his role relating with youth, Jeremy said he found he related well to senior adults, so his doctoral studies focused on creating intergenerational connectivity between youth and senior adults.
“I had really good relationships with the senior adults and also with the youth, so we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be really cool if we could make a connection between these two generations?’” he said. “The seniors and youth hardly ever talk to each other, so for three years, that’s what we did. So my dissertation is on creating those connections.”
One reason he was receptive to the possibility of stepping into a lead role at Seymour First Baptist Church was because he had success working with the two very diverse groupings.
On Feb. 24, he orchestrated 5th Quarter in the church’s fellowship hall following a Seymour basketball game. The party began after the final horn and went until midnight.
The church provided pizza, soft drinks and a place for the middle school and high school students to play basketball, volleyball and other games. The event was a success and brought in more than 120 area students to enjoy fun and fellowship in a friendly and safe environment.
A songwriter and musician, Jeremy was invited to go to north central India in February 2016 to join together with an annual meeting of Baptists and play in front of 150,000 people.
“It was intense, and it was different,” he said. “I mean, I’ve played in front of big crowds before, but normally with others. This was the first time I had been in front of that large of a crowd with just me and the guitar and in such a foreign setting.”
He said he wasn’t very nervous until he saw his hand on a screen about 50 feet out. He sang “Bound for Glory” by the Vertical Church Band.
“It was an incredible and a really neat experience, and they responded,” he said. “I finished the first song and unplugged, starting to leave the stage, and the crowd asked me to play another song.”
He then was able to go back out and play a song he had written, “Center of My Praise.”
“I was in a band called Consider for a long time, and we recorded two different EPs,” he said. “We used Hebrews 12:1-3 as our theme verse for our band. It talks about considering Christ so we won’t become discouraged in our hearts, considering what He suffered for us so that we don’t become discouraged.”
Fellow band members Mike Drummer and Nathan Parker both live in Indiana. Drummer is a youth pastor and pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana Wesleyan University, while Parker is a sales technician in Fort Wayne but eventually will be a music minister. Parker recently was in Seymour to perform special music with Jeremy during a worship service.
In his new role, Myers said he has several goals he would like to accomplish. One of the things is the name of the church, Seymour First Baptist Church. He would like to change the mentality of that.
“I don’t want us to be just a church that is in Seymour, but I want us to be a church that is for Seymour so that the way that we function shows the community the love of Christ in practical ways,” he said.
He also hopes the church makes a difference in the community and meets the needs of the people of Seymour. He wants the church to be a viable part of the community.
“On our sign, it says, ‘A home for your faith,’ and that’s an invitation,” he said. “If we’re going to make that invitation to people in the community, then we need to be a place that is open to anybody coming through our doors and being a part of what we are doing here.”
If it’s going to be a home, it needs to be a warm and inviting environment, he said.
“I want this to be a place where when people walk through the doors, they truly feel welcomed, loved and wanted,” he said. “I think that’s important because that’s the message of the gospel. God wants us to know even though we might feel unwanted and unlovable that we are in fact loved and wanted.”
Church member Kristal Hubbard of Seymour said she has high hopes for the future of the church.
“Dr. Jeremy Myers came to Seymour with a lot of motivation and vision and has reached out to our community in so many positive ways,” she said. “I’m very impressed with the way he has reached out to the schools and opened up our church to the local students after a ballgame.”
Hubbard said Jeremy is very approachable and easy to talk to, and his love for God is evident in his sermons and it’s contagious.
“We are very blessed to have him and his family as a part of our church family and in our community,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the future will bring with Rev. Dr. Myers leading the way.”
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The Rev. Dr. Jeremy Myers is a Notre Dame fan and loves basketball.
Robyn Myers plays the flute and enjoys slalom skiing, being on the beach and riding her bike.
J.J. Myers loves his new school and playing baseball.
Mikayla Myers sings with the praise team at church and is excited to attend Seymour High School next fall.
The family has two hermit crabs, Marlin and Squirt.
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Seymour First Baptist Church is at 505 Community Drive, Seymour
9 a.m.: Blended worship in sanctuary
10:10 a.m.: Sunday school
11:15 a.m.: Contemporary worship in the fellowship center
For information, visit fbchome.org.