The Rev. Sam Duncan, who drives a Schwan’s truck during the week, serves as pastor of Floyd Baptist Church on the weekends.
By Gary Mitchell
Dean Turvaville is among a growing army of bivocational pastors throughout the nation — pastors of churches who also work in the public marketplace for their livelihood.
So is Sam Duncan.
As an ordained Southern Baptist minister, Turvaville serves as pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Clovis. During the week, however, he works as a broker and investment representative for Edward Jones.
Duncan serves as pastor of Floyd Baptist Church on the weekends and as a Schwan’s route manager during the week.
Both feel serving customers and the Lord at the same time has its advantages.
“I still get a lot of opportunities to share my faith with folks,” Turaville said. “I often get asked to do funerals for some of my clients who don’t attend church or have a church of their own. So sometimes, I joke with them that I’m a full-service broker.”
When Turvaville began his pastorate at Highland in 1998, it marked the first time the church had a part-time pastor.
“Now, the whole staff at the church is bivocational,” he said. “Things seem to be going really well at the church.”
In fact, when Turvaville first came to the church, it was averaging about 30 in Sunday school and 50 in worship.
“We now average about 70 in Sunday school and 125 in worship,” he said.
Turvaville estimated about one-third of the approximately 30,000 Southern Baptist Convention pastors are bivocational.
“We have about 120 bivocational (Baptist) pastors in the state of New Mexico (out of about 260 Baptist churches),” he said. “We’re ‘double-duty parsons,’ you might say.”
He estimated the numbers would be about the same in other denominations as well.
Although he has had opportunities to have a full-time pastorate, Turvaville said he felt this was his calling, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “The Apostle Paul was bivocational — he was a tentmaker. The advantage of being bivocational is that you get to meet people right where they are — in the marketplace. Usually, people respect the fact that you work a full-time job like they do. “
During his pastoral career at Floyd since 1990, Duncan has also worked as a maintenance man for the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home, as a farm worker for Miller Farms, a maintenance worker and custodian for Floyd Schools and as a project manager for the solid waste and recycling program.
“I don’t see the bivocational ministry as a lesser calling,” he said. “God calls us all to service. Small churches need a minister just as much as the larger ones.”
Duncan said it takes a lot of work, but the rewards are good.
“You can have a good influence on the people you work with,” he said. “You, of course, can’t stop and witness directly to people, but you can share a word of encouragement from the Lord.”