Portland Mayor Mike Callis, who is also an ordained minister, recently stepped down from his long-time post as lead pastor at Liberty Free Will Baptist Church in Portland.
But the mayor said the reason for his stepping away from his pastoral duties has nothing to do with his role as mayor of Portland.
“The decision to step down has nothing to do with being mayor. It was a plan. I try to plan. I’m a planner. The Lord tried to show me and help me understand,” Callis said. “It’s been a little bit over three years now. He said ‘When certain things happen there, you need to get out of the pulpit there, and let somebody else take it over.’ ”
Callis said he is a believer in discipleship and believes that the Bible teaches that congregations should mentor and develop people to step into roles within the church, leading all the way up to pastor. Callis believes God has anointed that man in Joe Osborne, who had served several years as Liberty’s associate pastor.
“I believe in discipleship. The way I view discipleship is I’m training a person that is coming along for what reason. That reason is they need to be able to step into the role that you have. That’s the purpose of that,” Callis said. “They’re going to step into that role, and you have to step out of that role, whether it’s a Sunday school teacher or whether it’s the pulpit. These are things that I’ve taught and preached on for years. It’s come time.
“I have pastored there for 15 years. I love those people. I have family there too. I love those people. It was tough to do it, but I’ve share with them that I believed the time was right. Joe Osborne does a great job. He’s served as associate pastor for all those years.”
The mayor went on to say that Osborne came to him after being ordained last year and said he believed it was time for him to become a head pastor of a church. It was at that moment that Callis believed the Lord was leading Osborne into the role Callis had held at Liberty.
“He said, ‘I just felt like the Lord was telling me that I’ve got to move into a pastor role.’ I told him if that’s the case, then you need to move into my role, not go somewhere else. Let’s not look for another place. One of the things I think we struggle at is when a church needs a pastor, they go outside their own congregation to find a pastor,” Callis said. “Yet, that seems to go against what the Bible teaches about discipleship and training. I go to so many churches and I travel around and I speak to different places. I know almost all the local people. I’ve had relationships with many of them for years, and it’s sad to me that when a pastor leaves, that there’s no one in that congregation that’s ready to step into that role. And I struggle with that. If we’re training folks, and the Bible is constantly talking about bringing people up. I feel like we need to be preparing people.”
Callis said he came to that realization nearly four years ago.
“It was basically three and a half, almost four years ago, the Lord said, ‘What happens is you die? Where’s the church at? Where is Liberty Free Will Baptist Church at?’ We were wrapped up in it so much — every aspect, my wife and I,” he said.
Callis praised his wife Diane for being a loyal pastor’s wife throughout his 15-year run at Liberty. He also voiced strong support for Osborne and Liberty Church, which he said, “has touched a lot of lives.”
As for now, Callis is still serving as a minister, speaking and preaching at different churches when called upon, but is taking what he calls a “sabbatical” from pastoring.
“What I’m doing is basically a sabbatical from pastoring. We’ll see where the Lord leads.” Callis said.
He indicated that he and his wife have also visited different congregations in the area.
“We’ve made a concerted effort to have service with all those folks we had said we wanted to have service with and never got around to it. I speak a little bit here and there when they ask me to,” he said.