By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
OCEAN CITY, Md.—Sean Davis grew up in Ocean City (OC) Church. His father and mother, Terry and Lynn Davis started the church in the late 70’s. Besides Terry being the pastor, Lynn ministered with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as a resort missionary.
“I was at church every time the doors were open. We started small. Sometimes I was the only one in Sunday School, so I got a lot of individual attention. It was a loving church and the people poured into me,” Sean reminisced. The lifestyle was as natural as breathing in the beachy smells, or listening to the ocean waves at night. In 2006, Sean came home from college to be the youth pastor of Ocean City Church and the athletic director of Ocean City Christian School. In 2010 he became pastor of Ocean City Church and is being mentored by his dad.
Sean accepted Christ when he was seven. “We had the Lord’s Supper service and I didn’t understand. I started asking questions and Dad explained the Gospel through the elements of the Lord’s Supper and I asked the Lord into my heart. God used that and I began to grow in my relationship with the Lord. God called me to ministry in college.”
The younger Davis received his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Carson Newman College in Tennessee. He later went to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Four years later, Sean felt God calling him home.
“We had the school (Ocean City Baptist School) then and they needed an athletic director. I came back and worked under my father’s supervision for four years. I want to be mentored by Dad. That basically led me to becoming pastor when he retired.”
Did that surprise Sean? Did he think about being the preacher at OC Church when he was a small boy? Not really, he said, but he remembers his mom making comments about the possibility.
“He was either going to be a pastor or a lawyer,” Lynn said with a laugh. “He was always in front of people, he couldn’t help himself. And he was always a compassionate youngster. “
Terry wondered what God was going to do with Sean’s life. “When he was little, he’d go visiting with me and he related to everyone. Senior adults loved him. People in the hospital appreciated him. He was a natural,” the elder Davis said.
“Coming home did surprise me. I figured God would send him somewhere else to do all the things He had planned–I even thought maybe he’d go into international missions. We were looking for a youth pastor and I was surprised he said yes. It was great to have him on staff. He’s a real go-getter and is solid in his theology–all the stuff you want in a youth pastor.”
When Terry decided to retire, the church didn’t have to think twice about calling Sean to step into his father’s shoes.
Asked how it is for him, being mentored by his father, Sean responded, “I don’t have a word to describe it. It is a blessing. When you’re younger you think your Dad can do no wrong. In your teen years, Dad knows nothing. As I got into ministry, into seminary, my dad knew everything,” Sean said.
“He had the best heart for a pastor I’ve ever seen. I never heard my father say anything negative about anyone. He didn’t bring the drama of church home, but kept the mission first. He left the politics out of it. He always put Christ first, mother second, us third, and the church fourth. I’m trying to learn how to do that–to balance it all “
Terry and Lynn are a little surprised at the changes in OC Church but they’re excited at the growth and energy. Sean led the church in having church services at their building just off of the Route 50 bridge instead of the facility in west Ocean City near the White Marlin Mall.
Though the downtown area is landlocked, and parking is difficult, Sean said it’s where the people are. OC Church works with the North American Mission Board-sponsored resort ministry and ministers to thousands of young adult internationals who flood Ocean City to supply labor to the shops and markets. Having the church on a visible corner in town opens a big door for them to be able to attend services.
Ocean City Christian School is located at the West campus and Sean said the building, along with school, will be utilized for Upward soccer, movies, Bible studies and many more outreach ministries.
Terry and Lynn are thrilled with their son’s ministry. Terry said the church has had a strong congregation comprised of Ocean City year-round residents and regular summer vacationers.
The resort ministry is flourishing as the church partners with Lynn and resort ministry volunteers to provide food, activities and friendship to the international students. But there’s even more new life at OC Church now.
“Sean is bringing young people in. They’re doing things I would have never done, changing things left and right. They’re redesigning worship, they moved church services back downtown…and the praise band keeps growing and growing,” Terry said.
Terry and Lynn are continuing as members in the church. Terry helps with maintenance and upkeep but will not take a leadership position for some time.
Sean and his wife, Anna, have a two-year-old little girl named Charlotte (Charlie). The couple met when Sean returned to the church to work as youth pastor and also at the OC School where Anna worked. As of this writing, the couple was expecting their second child any time.
“It’s all really exciting. We’re watching God move and trying not to get in way,” Sean said.