Rev. Craig and Rikki Thompson
Craig Thompson and his wife Rikki grew up near Lancaster, Ohio. They graduated from high school together and were married in 1996. Craig had every intention of becoming a history professor when he entered Malone University in Canton, Ohio. But during his sophomore year, he felt the definite call of God to pastoral ministry.
Early in his career, he served as youth pastor at Sixteen St. John's Church in Massillon, Ohio, and then associate pastor at Tyler Memorial United Methodist Church in Chillicothe, Ohio. Pastor Craig left Tyler UMC to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree and Rikki received her Master of Arts degree in Church History. He was ordained as an American Baptist minister in 2005.
After seminary, he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Barre, Vermont (ABC) for more than nine years and then moved to northwest Pennsylvania to be closer to family in Ohio. It was important for Pastor Craig and Rikki to be able to share in the joys, sorrows and milestones of these family members, especially their nieces and nephews. Since that move six years ago, he has served as pastor of East Side Church of Sharon, Pennsylvania (ABC).
According to Pastor Craig:
“The job posting for the first church to which I was called summarizes my experience in ministry. It said, ‘We are looking for a pastor who will preach God’s Word and love the people in our church.’ When I saw the posting, I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I had no idea how challenging and how rewarding it is to balance these two pastoral duties: preach God’s Word and love God’s people.
Preaching and teaching God’s Word are among my passions. I dare not preach a gospel that I don’t live, so I devote time to studying and applying God’s Word to my own life before preaching to others. Pastoral care is one of my strengths. One of my ministry goals is to make disciples of Jesus, which can only occur by living alongside people. I regularly pray for them – bringing them into the presence of God who cares for them more than I ever could – and I show my care in tangible ways, by meeting people wherever they are.”
Pastor Craig and Rikki both enjoy reading church history, listening to music, playing board games, eating pizza and taking walks through cemeteries because of the rich history found there.