Dear CSF Board,

I want to personally thank you for your support of Ruling Elder Bebo Elkin’s labors to assist and advise churches, sessions, pastors, and elders. When I first met Bebo, it was at an 8 a.m. Monday morning class at RTS Jackson. He was teaching “Introduction to Ministry,” and I thought “what can this glorified youth director possibly know about real ministry?!” I very quickly learned the folly of that sentiment and attitude!

I have benefited greatly over the years from Bebo’s counsel, friendship, and wisdom. Bebo was instrumental in my finding and pursuing the call to First Presbyterian Church at Winona. He put me in contact with the pulpit committee and helped me work through my options as far as calling. Having discerned the Lord’s call to FPC Winona, Bebo graciously agreed to give the charge to the congregation, and he is still remembered fondly by our congregation. Since coming here, Bebo’s guidance has been essential. I’ve come to a church reeling from a number of poor pastoral decisions (four pastors in seven years) and – as with most towns like ours – in numerical decline. Bebo has helped me to prioritize a way forward for the congregation to seek to bring reformation and revitalization to FPC Winona.

Here in the “hills of Mississippi,” often I feel alone, isolated, and cut off from support and camaraderie. It has truly been a gift from God to have someone available like Bebo to come alongside me and shepherd me through the trials and hardships of pastoral ministry as he provides not only good, practical advice from his years of experience but also encouragement and affirmation to stay the course faithful to the calling of a Reformed Church of Jesus Christ. As I prepare for our quarterly session meetings in particular, Bebo’s advice on how to lead and pastor this group has been invaluable. I am so thankful to God that He has provided a man such as Bebo for me to learn from as I prepared and now begin to do pastoral ministry.

As I carry out the work here in Winona, one piece of Bebo’s advice keeps coming to mind, “Am I being as patient with others as Jesus is being with me?” That word of advice has stuck with me and I believe helped me to keep from giving up altogether.

Ryan F. Biese, Pastor – FPC Winona