New pastor takes the reins at the Calvary Baptist Church
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A pastor who was raised in the area assumed the leadership role at the Calvary Baptist Church, replacing a staple in the faith based community who served over four and a half decades in Grayling.
Phillip Niederer Jr. gave his first Sunday sermon at the church on Aug. 26. He succeeded Pastor Dr. Robert Barnett.
Niederer was born in Holland and was raised in Roscommon. He was home schooled during his high school years.
Niederer attended Pensacola Christian College in Florida, where he met his wife, Ingrid.
After earning their degrees, the couple moved to Banning, California, a small but growing community located near Palm Springs. Niederer served as a school teacher, principal, and coach at the Calvary Christian School. He was also a youth pastor at the Mt. Avenue Baptist Church. The church had a congregation between 225 to 250 members, while the school had 260 students.
“We went out and started teaching, and the ministry grew and the job changed as we were out there,” Niederer said.
After 14 years in California, Pastor Barnett and the deacons at the Calvary Baptist Church sent Niederer a questionnaire.
“I was familiar with the ministry and some of my family comes here,” he said.
His family includes his grandmother, Mae Niederer, aunt and uncle, Lynnette and Mike Corlew, and aunt Nancy Niederer.
Niederer and his family visited Grayling in July, and he was offered the job as pastor upon Pastor Barnett’s retirement.
Niederer was the sole candidate to become the new pastor.
“It was a one and done kind of thing,” he said.
He said he was pleased to be offered the job to lead the church.
“I was excited about the opportunity,” Niederer said.
“I’ve been praying for the ministry here for a long time and if God was ever going to lead me here, we were willing to follow his lead to this place.”
He also wanted to raise his children, which include Phillip, age 12, Aaliyah, age 10, Zachery, age 9, Noel, age 5, and Benjamin, age 4, in a smaller, rural community.
“We wanted to get out of the craziness of everything and the busyness of being in the big city,” Niederer said.
Niederer has relished his first couple of weeks at the church.
“You feel wanted kind of, and the people, they like you, so that is always a blessing,” he said. “We love the people here and they have treated us very well. We’re just excited about serving God here and reaching the community with Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Barnett, who led the church for 46 years, has helped Niederer get comfortable with his new position in the community.
“He’s been very gracious during the transition and has supported me 100 percent of the way, so I appreciate that from him,” he said.
The Calvary Baptist Church, located at 6504 M-72 West, has a congregation of 60 people. Niederer hopes to see the fellowship grow.
“We want to reach families and people with the gospel, and let them know who Jesus is, and show them He loves them, and hopefully they will come to be part of the fellowship here and grow in their walk with the Lord,” he said.
Niederer, 38, hopes to fill out his career at the church.
“I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life here,” he said. “That is the goal if God allows that to happen.”