Ontario Conference Bids Farewell to a beloved pastor after 48 years of devoted service

Posted: August 3rd, 2023

Sunday, the 29th, marked a poignant moment for the Ontario Conference as the congregation at Toronto East gathered for a special program to bid farewell and honour Pastor Errol Lawrence, a man whose life has been dedicated to the service of God and His people for nearly 50 years. In this article we reflect on his remarkable ministerial journey.

Pastor Lawrence's ministry commenced in 1975 when he answered the Divine call to serve as a pastor in the South England Conference, London, U.K. Armed with a profound passion for God's Word, he then pursued his theological education at Newbold College, where he earned a BA in Theology. Further enriching his knowledge, he obtained a Masters of Divinity and a Doctorate of Ministry from Andrews University Theological Seminary, cementing his commitment to lifelong learning and spiritual growth.

Pastor Lawrence was ordained on March 8, 1980, which was the beginning of an international ministry. He served with unwavering dedication in congregations in the U.K. like Balham, Brixton, Battersea, Croydon, and the Monrovia district in Liberia. He also served in various departmental roles, including Communications, Stewardship, Health and Family Ministries. Additionally, he served as an assistant to the president in the Liberia Mission, where he and his wife Pam served as missionaries for seven impactful years.

Throughout his career, pastor Lawrence's passion for evangelism shone brightly conducting evangelistic series in the U.K. as well as several in Monrovia (Liberia), Jamaica, Togo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Philippines, and Cuba. His most memorable series was the Big Tent evangelistic series in 1978, held on Clapham Common, London, U.K. The success defied all the skeptics against public tent series. The success of that series was highlighted in the Division's report at the 1980 General Conference Session.

Pastor Lawrence was a man of many talents throughout his ministry including singing. He was once part of the male gospel quartet “The Golden Chords” that ministered to many churches in the U.K.

Amidst the joys of ministry, Pastor Lawrence encountered challenging moments that tested his faith. He faced danger when in Liberia during a coup d'état while he struggled to be evacuated out of the country. During his mission service, he contracted malaria. Despite several treatments and days on an IV, his health deteriorated, and the doctor had grave concerns about his survival. A member from his local church came in and prayed fervently for Pastor Lawrence saying, “Lord, you have to heal our pastor because you did not bring him here to send him back home in a body bag." Soon he experienced a miraculous recovery.

Upon moving to Canada he served at Apple Creek (1995-1998) and Burman University from 1998-2006 as chair of the Religion Department at Burman University. In that position, his students remembered him for his quotes. Two memorable ones were: "Pastoral Ministry is a call; not a career" and “If you are not a worker you are a shirker." Highlighting his view that pastoral ministry is a sacred work, and you are always working for the Lord.

He also served Ontario Conference as Ministerial Secretary from 2006-2013, lead pastor at Toronto West Church from 2013-2018, and finally as lead pastor at Toronto East Church.

Amidst his heartfelt expressions of gratitude, Pastor Lawrence extends special recognition to his wife Pam, “She has been a steadfast pillar of strength and support for 49 incredible years in marriage and ministry”, he states. He also celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of his four children (Abigail, Michaela, Anthony and Antonia), each pursuing unique paths of service and excellence.

Looking forward to his well-deserved retirement, pastor Lawrence plans to relax, reflect, and relish cherished moments with his family and grandchildren. He also aspires to write his memoirs and eagerly anticipates God's next chapter in his life.

Pastor Jakov Bibulović president of the Ontario Conference stated “As we celebrate pastor Errol Lawrence's retirement, we honor a life of dedication to God. His ministry has transformed countless lives, leaving a legacy etched in the hearts of all who have had the privilege of knowing him. Ontario Conference expresses our profound gratitude for his selfless service, and we wish him God's abundant blessings as he embarks on this new chapter of life.”

You can watch the full retirement service and tributes on Toronto East's YouTube channel.