Saying Goodbye

By Britt Hester, Minister of Youth & Christian Education


5 years ago, I was sitting in my office at Heritage Baptist Church when Courtney walked in with tears in her eyes. We were discerning our next steps, perhaps wondering if God was calling us to something else, but not knowing for sure. Courtney had been in discussion with Northside Hospital in Atlanta to potentially become a staff chaplain at one of their regional locations. We were living in Cartersville at the time, and this meant we would have to move in order to be closer to her work. I wasn't ready to move, and neither was she, so we were in a bit of a pickle. 

While we were sitting in my office, each of us trying to comfort the other, I got a message from Kyle Reese. He was coming to Atlanta and wanted to have dinner with us. Courtney knew Kyle from her time at HAB, but I had only been around Kyle at our wedding and in various CBF settings. We thought perhaps he wanted to meet and catch up with us to see how we were doing. Little did we know our lives were about to change forever.

Looking back, Kyle was literally an answer to our prayers. His presence and invitation came at a time of uncertainty and distress for us. We began to wonder if God had heard our prayers for clarity and direction. Reflecting back all these years later, we see how God was at work in ways we didn't understand at the time. 

It's not hyperbole for me (us) to say Kyle Reese changed my life. And not just because he offered me an opportunity to come to HAB. Kyle has changed my life in ways I can't fully articulate. For me, he has been my boss, colleague, and mentor. But above all, he is my friend and pastor. Kyle Reese is who he is because he loves well. He has been there for me. He has comforted, challenged, encouraged, disciplined, and inspired me. Simply being around him has made me a better minister and person. And for the gift of serving on staff and sharing life together, I am so very grateful to God. 

Sunday, April 26th was Kyle's last as pastor of Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church. I've known this day was coming for over a year, and yet nothing prepares you for the emotional torrent that inevitably comes. While his departure is no doubt sad for all of us, I hope we can take a moment to rejoice for all he’s given us. It's a rare thing for a pastor to serve a congregation for 14 years. It's perhaps even more rare for a pastor to be as beloved as Kyle Reese. We have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope you will join me in giving thanks to God for the gift of Kyle's life, leadership, and legacy at HAB.