Pastor Jim Ruddy
Orchard Park, NY
1) Tell me about your decision to move to Buffalo to pastor The Tabernacle. Was it something you struggled with or no?
Our decision to move to Buffalo wasn’t arrived at quickly; in fact it was several years in the making. I came into relationship with Pastor Tommy Reid and The Tabernacle about 10 years ago at a time when the Holy Spirit was enlarging my understanding of the Kingdom. Pastor Reid extended an invitation to come to Buffalo and spend some time with him in the Scriptures. That initial visit brought about a deep heart-connection and an eventual invitation to serve on The Tab’s Apostolic Oversight Council, part of the Church’s accountability structure. For a number of years I walked with Pastor Reid as he prayerfully considered how the Lord would have him transition the leadership of the Church. At one point I had to wrestle with the question if God was calling me to be his successor ; a question that was not easily answered, especially in light of the fact that my wife Mari-Lee was sensing the Lord’s leading to Buffalo. After a long season of prayer we both agreed that while God had something for us in Western NY, I was not the man to receive the baton from Pastor Reid. It’s hard to express how delighted I was when Pastor Reid selected Dr. Robert Stearns as his successor. First, because I’m convinced that God has uniquely graced him with the capacity for such a role, and secondly, because I thought I was off the hook (Smile). Now, these many years later, Mari-Lee and I are amazed at the way the Lord has brought about the perfect scenario for us to find our rightful place at The Tab.
2) You talk about being the number 2 man at The Tabernacle now, under Bishop Robert Stearns. Is that an easy adjustment for you coming from a Senior Pastor role in PA?
Actually, the thought of being part of an Apostolic Team is one of the themes the Lord used to capture my attention – sort of like a burning bush – causing me to turn my heart toward what He was doing at The Tab. Again, because I’m fully persuaded that God has appointed Dr. Stearns as Bishop and Senior Leader of The Tab, I can gladly fill my role as the Five-Fold Pastor, giving my attention to the day-to-day life and ministry of the Church. Recently Pastor Darius Pridgeon ministered at The Tab, and after seeing how I sort of filled in the gaps, he pulled me aside, smiled and said, “Every church needs one of you.” I liked that.
3) Can you talk to me about the transition process with Bishop Emeritus Tommy Reid. As someone who has pastored The Tab for more than 50 years, what is his role now at The Tab?
We can only imagine how challenging it would be for any of us to entrust our legacy to another, especially if we’ve invested more than half-a-century in building it. I’m glad to say that this transition wasn’t handled haphazardly but there was a tremendous amount of dialog regarding the various roles each of the team members would fulfill. Although Bishop Reid has released the oversight of the Church, he is still fully recognized as the spiritual father of the House and we are thrilled that he has his rightful place of honor at The Tab. Along with this he has resumed a most aggressive travel schedule ministering outside the Church on a regular basis; something that has always been an important part of his calling.
4) What is your vision for The Tab, say 5 years from now?
Well now you’re touching on a challenging topic. The last time I asked God to give me a well-articulated vision of what He was doing with the Church, He took me to Revelation, Chapter 1 and told me, “Your vision will not be of the candlestick, but of the One who walks among the candlesticks!” I’m sure you’d agree that one thing that has hurt the work of God has been when a new leader arrives in an established Church and tries to force their vision to bear upon the congregation. I believe the vision is resident in the House, and for The Tab that means being what we’ve always been – a House of His Presence focused on
intimately knowing Jesus and passionately making Him known throughout the region, the Nation, and the World. Bishop Stearns and I, along with Pastor Aimee Reid and the rest of the team, are committed to seeing this vision comes to full fruition.
5) Coming from the outside in, what is your perception of the opportunity for the Gospel in Buffalo? Is it ripe for harvest so to speak or hard ground?
First off, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the cooperation that exists between the pastors and churches throughout the region. I’d only been in Buffalo for a few days when I was invited to sit with a group of dynamic leaders from across denominational lines who are committed to winning this City. While some may choose to go it alone, it’s clear that there is a Spirit-led coming together of Kingdom-minded leaders who are seeking God for His strategy to reach Buffalo. In the same way that God met Joshua and shared his plan to take Jericho, I believe He will answer those of us who are willing to lay down our egos and logos in order to see the Gospel bring renewal and restoration to this region. For me, I’m glad to be just one more voice that is getting ready to shout, “God has given us the City!”