PORT ST. LUCIE–While many pastors might attest to the challenges of leading a church following a long-tenured predecessor, Nick Manzie, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Port St. Lucie, has a different story to tell.
As a long-time member of the church, Manzie was guided in ministry by his pastor, Ray Stedham, who had served Central for 32 years. Stedham later paved the way for a smooth and Godly transition for the younger pastor.
“He was a mentor to me,” said Manzie. “Pastor Ray helped me build my Christian walk as a pastor. He put me under his wing, taught me the ins-and-outs, the workings of a church. . . like reading a live book about ministry.”
Manzie and his family moved to Port St. Lucie in 2004 where he served as a racetrack chaplain, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to racers and fans alike. In this role he was certified by the Florida Baptist Convention.He also served as a local youth pastor.
In 2008 the Manzie family joined Central Baptist Church where Stedham had served for two decades at that time. Recognizing that the elder pastor had 50 years of ministry experience under his belt and “a wealth of knowledge to tap into” Manzie sought to learn as much as he could under the revered pastor’s guidance. The younger man served in leadership roles within the church.
Feeling God’s tug to full-time ministry, Manzie left Port St. Lucie when he was called to serve as pastor of Stanford Baptist Church in Stanford, Ken., a ministry he continued for three years. Then in September 2018, the family returned to Port St. Lucie and to Central Baptist.
A few months following the family’s return, in January 2019 Pastor Stedham retired and the church began the search for a new pastor. During the interim period, Manzie was asked to submit his name for consideration and on Aug. 11, 2019, was called as Central’s new pastor.
Under Pastor Stedham’s steady leadership the church “was on the right track before he retired; I came into a strong congregation, not split or broken,” said the new pastor.
His goal has been to get folks excited about the Lord, ministry, and the church. “We’re the salt of the earth but sometimes the salt settles, sometimes we get a little stale.”
Desiring to be led by the Holy Spirit, Nick said that he only wants to make changes that will benefit the church “at the right time, for the right reason, when the Spirit leads.”
He is challenging members to invite others “with excitement and wisdom from the Lord” to visit Central. Their first Christmas Eve service this past December drew 126 people in attendance, including “lots of visitors.” Since August he has baptized 12 new believers and 24 new members have joined in fellowship.
The congregation at Central Baptist is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic; however, regardless of skin color or background, “we don’t see any of that, we only see red – that we’re all covered by the blood of Christ,” said Manzie. What matters to him is that they live and love like a family, with kindness and compassion, he said.
Because the congregation already knew him, was comfortable with him and his preaching style, Manzie believes he has had a smooth transition.
“They loved me before I was pastor.”