This 12-year military veteran of Desert Storm and 23-year veteran of law enforcement might not look like your typical minister, but Pastor Bill Pope (he prefers “Bill”) has guided Encouraging Words Ministries (EWM) Church since 2008. This mission comes naturally to him, as he was raised in a family of ministers.
“My great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother all served as ministers,” states Bill.
He started his non-denominational church while he was still a school resource officer with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office because “it was a drawing from within my spirit to serve others and make a difference in this world by preaching the Gospel. I do believe that the calling on my life was to reach a generation that had been forgotten and to go about it using a different approach.”
The 200-member congregation of EWM is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of men, women, and children that worship together and serve the Lord together in various ministries, both within the local community, as well as nationally and internationally. These ministries include Music; Youth; Evangelical, Missionary, and Community Outreach; and Education.
Their Evangelical, Missionary, and Community Outreach ministry serves the wider community and encourages positive relations within the community. Some of the members of this group have even traveled to Africa to do missionary work.
There is also a rather unique group within the church called Mothers Board, made up of respected older women. They support and nurture members of the younger generation, as well as visit the sick and shut-ins. The Mothers Board also hosts family-friendly and children's activities, such as back-to-school parties and family luncheons. They may also provide cooking, sewing, and craft classes.
The church’s Christian Resource Center provides written and electronic media that help members who are seeking to enrich and develop their Christian walk. Media covering such topics as marriage and the family, self-help, effective prayer, Christian child-rearing, evangelism, Bible teachings, and Christian leadership are available on a loan or purchase basis.
As with any profession or calling there are challenges and rewards. Reverend Pope accepts all that being a pastor entails. “One challenge is dealing with different personalities and unusual situations. Also a pastor is on call 24/7. There is no such thing as a vacation or time off. This calling is full-time. When you see that the word of God is being applied in someone’s life and they understand that they are valuable in the eyes of God no matter how they come to him – that is very rewarding,” comments the pastor.
Keeping a church afloat is not a one-person job. Bill is blessed with a supportive wife, Sharon, and the help of assistant pastors, deacons, elders, Sunday school teachers, choir directors, and ushers.
Encouraging Words Ministries Church also helps fund the R.C. Jones Memorial Foundation. This non-profit organization, founded in 2000 by four local sisters, works on community programs, such as feeding the hungry. They also engage in national and international outreach, such as providing scholarships to handicapped girls in Zambia, supporting children in orphanages, and purchasing school supplies for students in Africa.
Pastor Pope knows that his and the church’s work is not complete. One of his goals is to put in place teams of evangelists that will service Hernando County by finding what the needs are of the community and beyond.
As he states, “We as a people should ask ourselves daily, ‘Am I doing my best to make a positive change in someone’s life?’ ”
Encouraging Word Ministries is located at 310 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Brooksville, FL 34601.