Just Call Me John

| Weekly Word

(Tassels Abound!)

When I was newly-ordained and began serving as Associate Pastor in my old church down in Georgia, I made the mistake of telling people “Just call me John or Pastor John.”  This was something that most of the people in the church did with no problem, whatsoever.  There was one person, though, who did not like it:  The Reverend Dr. C. Jarred Hammet, Jr. (known by me as “Jarred”).

“No - they should not just call you John,” Jarred told me.  “You have your Master of Divinity degree and you are ordained.  You are not 'Just John.’  You are ‘The Reverend John Hardin Sawyer.’  Claim your authority!”  To prove his point, Jarred started sneaking tassels, like the kind of tassel that you might put on a graduation cap, into my life.  He clipped them to the back of my robe on occasion, hung them on the doorknob to my office, and even got some other people in on the prank of having me find tassels in the strangest of places (on the pulpit, for example).  I still have one of the tassels - a big tassel from some drapery store [See the photo, above] that Jarred gave it to me on my last Sunday at my former congregation.

Well, this coming Saturday, May 21, I will be getting another tassel.  I have been in the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program at Columbia Theological Seminary (a PCUSA seminary in Decatur, GA near Atlanta) since the summer of 2016.  This work has been very fulfilling and I am so thankful for all of the support that I have received from Bedford Presbyterian Church to make it happen - using continuing education time and funds from the church.  I am also very thankful for your participation in my final D.Min. project.  I am especially thankful for the encouragement and support of my wife, Amy, without whom none of this would have happened.  
As of this Saturday, my official title will be “The Reverend Dr. John Hardin Sawyer,” and I’ll have the tassel to prove it, but guess what. . . I’m just happy to be your pastor - not your “Doctor Pastor.”  Any earthly authority bestowed by the church and by my education is a gift that need not be lorded over anyone.  So, it’s okay to just call me John or Pastor John.  You can also call me “Dr. John,” if you want to, but I wouldn’t want you to confuse me with the great musician from New Orleans.  :)

I’ll look forward to returning to BPC next week, tassel in hand, ready to continue serving as your pastor - just with a few extra letters by my name.  Thank you!  See you in church!

Grace and Peace,


Prepare for WorshipThis Sunday:  “Do We Dare Hope?” — The Reverend Dr. Blair Moffett, Guest Preacher