James Patrick Lancaster, better known as Pastor Jimmy Lancaster, works hard to be what he calls a ‘community pastor.’
“I just feel it is important that the minister get involved in the community,” Lancaster said. “I’ve just always loved being involved.”
He has served on the board of several community organizations, including the Yadkin Baptist Association, the Yadkin Christian Ministries and the Yadkin YMCA.
Although he spends a large amount of time serving as pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church in Yadkinville he tries to help anyone he comes in contact with wherever he happens to be - regardless of where they are members.
Lancaster spent his early years moving with his military family. His father spent his career in the Air Force, leading Lancaster in his family eventually to Germany.
Lancaster’s love of a community is a reason he did not follow in his father’s military footsteps. The moving prevented him from setting down roots and participating in the area like he wanted.
As a boy in Germany he had picked up golf and set out to be “the next Arnold Palmer,” he said. His dream was to go pro, strike it rich, and provide for he and his loved ones.
The family spent several years there before returning stateside in Lancaster’s senior year of high school. The family moved to Springfield, Va., where Lancaster began being drawn away from professional sports in another direction.
“It was there I began to sense God’s call upon my life,” Lancaster said.
The desire to play golf competitively began to fade and Lancaster become more interested in spiritual matters.
“It was amazing, as I played golf more, God began to tug at my heart more,” Lancaster said. “So I went to Gardner-Webb with two friends of mine. One of those friends left after the first semester; the second friend left after the first year, and I remained.”
Lancaster completed his bachelors of arts in religion at Gardner-Webb in 1985 and his masters of divinity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1989.
Lancaster met his wife Penny while driving back and forth to Southeastern with a mutual friend. They were married in May, 1990 and have three children: Jeremy, Patrick and Jessica.
He has served as a pastor, assistant pastor and youth minister all across the state, but the Yadkin area holds a special place in his heart.
“What’s really unique is this is where my ministry all started out,” Lancaster said. “When I was at Gardner-Webb you had the opportunity in the summers to work in churches, they encouraged you to do that. Arlington First Baptist … was the church that allowed me to serve.”
Lancaster boarded above the Johnson Funeral Home in Elkin. There were two apartments available and the pastor at Arlington arranged for Lancaster to stay there.
“I’ll never forget my mom saying ‘We can’t do this, leaving our son at a funeral home,’” Lancaster said. “But that was an enriching experience.”
Lancaster followed that summer up the following year by serving at First Baptist of Jonesville.
“Those two experiences are experiences I look back on with great fondness,” Lancaster said.
Following his time in Yadkin County he finished his degrees and served elsewhere, including Thomasville and Mocksville.
In August of 2004 he began as pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church following former pastor Freddie Braswell’s taking of another church.
The church had recently relocated to its new building along Highway 421 between Unifi and the Yadkin YMCA, a fitting place for Lancaster since he served with the recreational facility.
He and several other pastors in the area formed a prayer group following his move to Yadkinville. The group meets at Maplewood and prays together every Wednesday.
Although he’s served in other areas, he said he has no plans to leave Maplewood or Yadkin unless God leads him elsewhere.
“I will stay here as long as God allows me,” Lancaster said.