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New pastor joins First Baptist Church in Erwin

Dr. Koby Strawser is the new pastor at First Baptist Church in Erwin. He moved to Unicoi County with his wife, Chasity, and their children Manuel, Mark and Thomas. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

There is a new fixture to a local landmark in Erwin.

Dr. Koby Strawser and his family are now leading services on Sundays at First Baptist Church of Erwin

Strawser was recently chosen by the church’s pastor search committee and began his tenure there at the start of the year.

“We had two interim pastors for about 18 months, and during that time we were really blessed to have several speakers and pastors come visit; we had such a good variety,” First Baptist Church Pastor Search Committee Chairwoman Logan Engle said. “We were drawn to Koby. He really has a love for people and relationships and we thought that was a great thing for our church and our community. We knew he was the right fit as we approach our 200 year mark here in Erwin.”

Strawser, who is from Valley Mills, Texas, comes to Erwin from a small Texas town.

“We were serving a church in Rotan, Texas, a community of about 12,000 people,” Strawser said. “We were out in the cotton fields of West Texas for about four years, and we were looking to make a change. We talked to the folks at First Baptist Church of Erwin, and it just seemed like a perfect fit. We fell in love with the beauty of this area.”

According to Strawser, who made the move with his wife, Chasity and their three sons, Mark, Thomas and Manuel, the move has been great for his family.

“We were not used to being so close to the stores. We were 30 minutes from the nearest Walmart in Texas,” Strawser said.

For Chasity, Erwin gives the family plenty to explore.

“We love it. It’s very pretty. We have found something to do every day. We were able to do the Linear Trail, visit Chestoa. We went to Asheville. We were able to find lots to do as a family.”

Strawser, who is a graduate of Baylor Seminary, and most recently completed his doctorate from Hardin-Simmons University, explained why he does what he does.

“I love walking beside people, during both good times and bad,” Strawser said. “I get a front row seat in the lives of my congregation, I get to see transformation take place in people’s lives.”

According to Strawser, the family has been welcomed with open arms.

“We came from a close-knit community and Erwin has been very similar to that, everyone has taken us right in,” Strawser said. “We have not felt like outsiders at all.”

Strawser acknowledges that he hopes to continue the tradition of reaching out to the community that First Baptist of Erwin is known for.

“First Baptist is a hospitable church and a family church, so we definitely want to continue that tradition,” Strawser said. “We want to be that home for people that are searching for a place to worship – we want to be the community’s church.”

According to Strawser, his family is very active in sports and Strawser, who has called high school football games in the past, would love the opportunity to work with area sports teams as a way to outreach to the community.

“I hope to reach out and help in any way possible,” Strawser said.

One area of growth that Strawser is stressing, is with the youth of Erwin.

“We have a committee of young couples who are working hard to grow our youth adults ministry,” Strawser said.  “Our young adults Sunday school class is up and running.”

Strawser welcomes anyone who may be looking for a church to come visit First Baptist of Erwin. Bible studies and youth groups start at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays and are followed by Sunday morning worship at 11 a.m. Sunday evening services take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening services take place at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about First Baptist of Erwin please follow them on Facebook or visit erwinfirst.org. The church is located at 200 Love St. in downtown Erwin.