by Nicole Rosselot
SummerFest at Northfield Baptist Church provided the perfect opportunity to recognize Associate Pastor Eric Puff for his two decades of service to the congregation. Puff, who celebrated 20 years with the church on Sept. 1, was presented with a special plaque commemorating his anniversary at the conclusion of SummerFest on Aug. 7.
SummerFest, an annual series of Sunday evening gatherings held in June, July and August, was the ideal occasion to surprise Puff. The congregation “was already together for an evening activity and then as a surprise to me, but not to anyone else, they had a short presentation to acknowledge 20 years of service,” Puff said.
Puff and his wife Carrie, along with their young son, came to Northfield Baptist Church in 2002 immediately following his graduation from Baptist Bible Seminary at Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Although Puff completed a year-long internship with Evangel Baptist Church in Taylor, Michigan, prior to his graduation, this was his first post-graduate job in ministry.
“He basically came to us right out of seminary, so he came as a new pastor in ministry without a lot of experience,” said Mark Ashley, senior pastor at Northfield Baptist Church. “He has really grown in his love for people, his compassion for people and his desire to really minister to people.”
At the time, Puff considered opportunities with several different churches. However, after multiple trips to Northfield from their home in Pennsylvania, Puff and Carrie felt connected to Northfield Baptist Church.
“I felt that after conversations here with Pastor Mark and the whole team, we just seemed to be on the same page with what we were looking to do: to shepherd people and to reach out to people with God’s word,” Puff said.
When he first came to Northfield Baptist Church, Puff appreciated the church’s focus on sharing the message of the gospel while adapting to an ever-changing world.
“The church is a pretty solid, very caring and loving place and that hasn’t changed a bit,” Puff explained. “The styles change, the technology changes, but it has been a good place to watch people stick to what’s important. … They are seeking Jesus and to walk closer with him.”
Over the past 20 years, Puff, whose family now includes four children, served the church in many ways. His responsibilities include organizing and leading adult groups and ministries, overseeing the children’s ministry, and administrative work such as office management, finance and personnel.
“He is a really good compliment to the leadership of our ministry,” Ashley said. “He is very diligent in his tasks, he really helps analyze and think through and organize things we are doing, so he has really been a huge help in that area.”
Most recently, the pandemic presented new challenges as church services were livestreamed and Northfield Baptist Church’s online presence became even more important. According to Ashley, Puff was instrumental in navigating the church through these technological changes.
“In the past two years of the pandemic, our church needed to focus even more on our presence online; and he has done a lot of work in helping us with our website and livestreaming. … He has really done the lion’s share of the work and the research,” Ashley said.
After 20 years of ministering to the congregation as associate pastor, Puff leaves the path forward in God’s hands. “He made it obvious that this is the place I’m supposed to be, so He will have to make it obvious when it is time to leave,” Puff said. “And, when He does, I hope I have the wisdom to see it. Until then, we are all in.” ∞
Photo: Associate Pastor Eric Puff (r) and his wife Carrie celebrated 20 years with Northfield Baptist Church. Photo submitted.