Long-time Albion pastor expands ministry

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Rev. Randy LeBaron has launched a Go Scatter Ministries after serving the past 15 years as pastor of the Albion Free Methodist Church. The Albion church is the first church in the Free Methodist denomination. LeBaron had the longest-serving tenure of any pastor in the church’s history.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2019 at 3:44 pm

‘Refill with Randy’ podcast will explore many spiritual topics

ALBION – In his 23 years as a pastor in Western New York, the Rev. Randy LeBaron notices people often feel the most comfortable with him outside the church walls, during encounters at the grocery store or Tim Hortons.

That is when they will often ask questions and share many of their deepest worries.

Randy LeBaron has coffee and checks his phone on Tuesday at Tim Hortons in Albion. He expects to launch the “Refill with Randy” podcast in October, which will take a conversational tone in discussing the Christian faith.

LeBaron, 45, wants to reach people where they are, and will soon launch a podcast, “Refill with Randy” to discuss spiritual issues and highlight Christian ministries in the community. He will have guests on the podcast to discuss how they live their faith.

“I want to take the stigma away from evangelism,” he said over coffee Tuesday at Tim Hortons in Albion, where he is a frequent customer and known by the owner, staff and many patrons. “It’s not standing at the street corner with a sign or hitting people over the head with the Bible. It’s sharing Christ’s love in a tangible way and sharing how Christ changed you.”

LeBaron served as pastor of the Albion Free Methodist for 15 years until June 30. He has started Go Scatter Ministries and is now a conference evangelist for the Free Methodist Church, providing pulpit supply and being available for conferences, retreats, funerals, weddings, baptisms and other services.

Since July 1 he has preached at the Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church, Albion First Baptist, First Presbyterian of Albion, and the Colonial Heights Free Methodist Church in Niagara Falls, where he was pastor before coming to Albion.

LeBaron and his wife Sheryl, a third grade teacher at Albion, have four children, ages 17, 15, 12 and 9.

LeBaron is the longest-serving pastor at the Albion Free Methodist Church. When it opened in 1860, it was the first church in the denomination, which now has more than 1 million members in 82 countries.

During his tenure at the Albion church, LeBaron estimates he preached 1,400 sermons. He also baptized 112 people and performed numerous weddings. He spoke at baccalaureate services, Lenten lunches, and served in ministries in the Orleans County Jail and the local nursing home.

He joined his church on mission trips to Chile, Peru and Bulgaria, and also went to Israel. Last month he attended a Christians United for Israel conference in Washington, D.C.

Randy LeBaron baptizes his daughter Ashlyn during an outside service at the Albion Free Methodist Church in 2017. Rick Holz, left, assisted with the baptism.

He feels committed to Orleans County. That’s why he is developing the podcast, “Refill with Randy,” and staying active with Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation. He was a founding member of PACT, a group of pastors in Orleans County that has tackled several community issues, including the opioid crisis. He also has been a chaplain the past two years for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

LeBaron said he wants to help equip people to know Jesus Christ and then live out that relationship and impact their families and communities.

During his tenure at Albion, 10 people from the congregation became ministerial candidates in the Free Methodist church, taking on ministry roles in their careers.

The Albion church also modified its sanctuary, trading pews for comfortable chairs and reorienting the sanctuary to accommodate 60 more people. The church uses a contemporary music team with a keyboardist, lead guitarist, drummer and bass guitarist.

“Our goal was to bring the building up to date,” he said.

The church typically averaged 200 to 250 for Sunday services.

One of LeBaron’s goals is to help people discover their SHAPE – spiritual gifts, heart (passion for God and compassion for others), abilities and talents, personality, and education and expertise.

“I expect AFMC to thrive,” LeBaron said about the church. “I am excited about being outside the church walls. I have more flexibility.”

He has social media accounts for Go Scatter Ministries and is crossing denominational lines for preaching.

LeBaron, who calls himself a “people person,” is excited about the upcoming podcasts. He thinks it will be an opportunity to reach many more people.

He wants to go on location and highlight the efforts of Hands 4 Hope, Care Net, PACT, the Community Kitchen and other ministries in the community. He also wants to have conversations on the podcast with Christians in the community, hearing how they live out their faith.

“I want to highlight the ways people are being the hands and feet of Jesus,” he said. “I want to help people put feet on their faith. This will be in a conversational tone just like you would over coffee.”

For more on Go Scatter Ministries, click here.

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