Moving to an unfamiliar town across the state to begin a new job might not be the easiest of transitions for most people.
But for the Rev. Jared Wellman, Mission Dorado Baptist Church’s newest senior pastor, it’s like he’s lived in Odessa for years.
After 27 years of living in East Texas, Wellman and his wife, Amanda, packed up and moved from Tyler to Odessa in May. Days of unpacking and settling into their house were whittled down to about an hour thanks to the help of his new congregation.
“They’ve just accepted us and loved us like we’ve been here our whole lives. It’s a big small-town mentality,” Wellman said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Mission Dorado Baptist was without a permanent pastor for nearly a year after the Rev. Phil Skelton left the church. Wellman discovered the position through a friend from his alma mater, Criswell College, in Dallas.
Though he felt unsure of making such a radical transfer from the lush greens of the east to the dry plains of the west, Wellman said God convinced him and his wife to make the decision to move.
“We prayed for clarity. The Lord immediately started working,” Wellman said. “Once we felt compelled, he brought everything together. It’s hotter and dryer (in Odessa), but the people make up for it.”
Though Wellman hasn’t even reached 30 years old yet, many of the church’s older members are ready to look to the young pastor for new ideas for the church’s future, Mission Dorado Baptist administrative assistant Misty Turner said.
“He’s young and young people bring new ideas,” Turner said. “He’s only been here for a month and so many things are happening. He’s already broadened what we’ve been doing.”
Wellman is eager to expand Mission Dorado Baptist’s reach into the community with a Bible institute set to kick off in the fall.
“I came out here and didn’t see anything like (the Bible institute). We really stress the Bible here,” Wellman said. “We want people to come and study the Bible together and just offer education to the community.”
Wellman’s foray into ministry is rooted in growing up in three different Christian denominations.
“I was raised in the Lutheran church, called to the ministry in the Pentecostal church and saved in the Baptist church,” Wellman said in his biography.
Wellman was first involved in the Lutheran denomination for 16 years until his family stopped going to church. He started feeling the call to go back to church during his teen years and rotated between a Pentecostal and Baptist church.
Even when he was called into the ministry, he had never made the decision to accept Christ until he settled into the Baptist faith.
“That’s what really got me (with the Baptist faith),” Wellman said. “I was wondering about my salvation, and I made a decision and it changed my whole life.”
Wellman has since been a minister for 10 years, serving at two other Baptist churches prior to Mission Dorado Baptist.
With a strong track record of having long stays at the church’s he’s served, Turner said Wellman fits right in with Mission Dorado Baptist’s small population.
“He has a heart for the people. They love him,” Turner said. “His heart for the Lord is what drew them to him.”