ELDER/LEAD TEACHING PASTOR
Rance Shuler serves as RFBC’s lead teaching pastor, while his wife Jennifer, serves as the church secretary. Rance grew up locally here in Graham County, while Jennifer grew up on the farmland of eastern NC. During the summer of 2009, Rance and Jennifer met in Trinidad while serving the Lord Jesus on two separate mission trips. They were joined in marriage in November 2010. Rance and Jennifer both knew that full-time ministry would be a part of their future, but what that would look like was certainly not clear at the time. During this period of praying and waiting, Rance and Jennifer served alongside Eternal Truth Ministries, remained committed to making disciples, and underwent much training and equipping to be ordained into the Gospel Ministry. In 2015, Rance resigned from 8 years as a middle school math and science teacher, bus driver, and cross-country coach while Jennifer stepped down from her job as a CPA of 10 years.
Rance was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel and commissioned by Robbinsville First Baptist Church in November 2015 under the shepherding of Pastor Noah Crowe, and the couple stepped out in faith as full-time missionaries with Eternal Truth Ministries. After serving with Eternal Truth Ministries for four years, the elders at RFBC asked Rance and Jenni to pray about accepting the lead teaching pastor role. The church voted 100% affirmation to receive Rance, and he began and his new role in September of 2019. Rance and Jenni are blessed with three boys, Jayden (2014), Colson (2016), and Caleb (2018). For family fun, the Shuler’s thoroughly enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, and fly fishing in God's Appalachian Mountains!
"…that we may present every man mature in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." Colossians 1:28b-29
Ben Thacker’s privilege is to serve as the Properties Elder and as the Youth Pastor of RFBC. He and his wife, Jessica, have attended RFBC since moving to the area in 2013 from Indianapolis. During high school, he sensed that God was calling him to serve His Church. That calling was recognized through ordination by Cornerstone Baptist Church in Whitestown, IN, in 2012.
Ben believes that relationships are the greatest vehicle to help people change. He has been blessed in his life to have many individuals who have intentionally invested their lives into his. These discipling relationships have greatly changed the course of his life. His greatest joy and passion is to help others along the path of discipleship and to equip them to understand their calling to be disciple-makers.
God has blessed them with four quickly growing kids who continue to teach them more about how to love well. When he has time to relax, he enjoys reading with some good coffee, spending time in the woods, and cheering on the Indianapolis Colts.
"Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me; lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any tie, save the tie that binds me to Thy service and to Thy heart. My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All, I again consecrate my life to Thee."
—David Livingston, abolitionist and medical missionary.
Though our methodology is different from Livingston, our heart and passion are the same: freedom and healing, especially in relation to the Body of Christ. The interesting part of our story is that we did not experience this personal freedom and healing until after we were already in full-time Christian ministry, though we both grew up in the church and attended a Christian University. Colin and Jinny McDougall initiated a relationship with us that demonstrated the love of the Father, trained us in our Scriptural understanding, and showed us how to practically apply these truths to our lives, marriage, and the parenting of our four children. We personally understand the pressure for perfectionism on the life of those in ministry. Yet, we found a safe place sitting around a table with these two disciple-makers asking questions and exploring truth. Through these relationships, we have been shown the grace of God and have developed a heart to make Him known. Since all authority has been given to the church, we desire to demonstrate and communicate God's strategy for His Church.
David and Dana serve as missionaries with Eternal Truth Ministries and have been attending RFBC since 2006. It is an honor and privilege to serve the church in this capacity. Our heart is to help equip the body so that intentional relationships are built by someone that loves God and wants to help equip others to love God and love others, which is discipleship.
Though saved at a young age, I did not actively begin attending church until high school, when a teacher invited me to attend New Hope Baptist Church. Shortly thereafter, I began attending RFBC part time when I started dating my future wife, Charla. When we married in 1992, we had the difficult decision of which church to attend. We were both very active and invested in our places of worship, but ultimately we felt God calling us to serve at New Hope. While there, we had our son, Charlton, in 1994 and served for 18 years in various capacities of teaching, and Charla served in women’s ministry and music until she was asked to come to RFBC in 2010 to be the worship leader. We felt strongly that God was calling us back to RFBC so she could lead worship but later realized God had a call on my life to serve in the leadership of the Body.
This first began when I had the opportunity to serve as a deacon and continued as the leadership at RFBC felt a strong call from the Holy Spirit to move to an elder led Body, and I was called to be an elder and help lead the Body through this growth process. My heart for ministry is that I would show off Christ as I seek to be conformed to His image. The key is to love people well, and my prayer is to love like Jesus, by loving Him and His church. Because we love His church, as leaders, we want to help equip others for ministry. We do this through building relationships in which we grow, we help others grow, and as a result, the Body grows.
"Elder of Fun" a title that was given to me by my 13-year-old son. Although I smile when I hear him say that, what I love about serving as Body Life Elder is helping the body of Christ grow in love and fellowship together, and it IS very fun!
My family and I, wife Ashley, sons Isaiah and Avery, and daughter Delilah, have been attending First Baptist since 2005, and I have had the pleasure of serving in various capacities since that time. Working with our teenagers began a journey of faith for me. It provided an opportunity to step out into areas of service that pushed me beyond my feelings of comfort. Saying yes to that opportunity allowed God to show me His ability to equip someone for the service He has called them to. My greatest desire is to see others allow God to equip them. My heart is that people would see God in their everyday lives and find ways to show Him off practically. From sharing a meal together, to a round of golf with the guys, God’s love can be shown off in a variety of ways.