After 30 years, Don Startup retires as worship pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church


CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — After 30 years of service, Don Startup, worship pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, Ga., is retiring. On Sunday, June 16, one week before his final service as worship pastor, the church celebrated Pastor Startup and his ministry.

Startup led worship as usual during both services on Sunday and was accompanied by his sons Drew, Will, and Nick for part of it. He was also recognized at a special reception with church members.

Originally from Tennessee, during the past three decades the Startup family has made Cartersville its home, and Startup said they plan to remain in the area after his retirement. He recalled that they arrived in 1994 “as a family of five, and now there are 17 Startups here.  Our Tabernacle family has helped us to raise three boys by being adoptive grandparents and parents to them.”

From the beginning, Startup said, his ministry has been a partnership with his wife, Allison. Startup recalled arriving at Tabernacle and church members being amazed that Allison knew their names even before being introduced to them. “Allison asked for a pictorial directory of the church members,” he recalled, “and pretty much memorized that pictorial directory before we hit our new church field.” Startup continued, “I could not have asked for a better wife and ministry partner than she has been!”

Patrick Latham, lead pastor at Tabernacle, reflected on Startup’s impact on the church. “Pastor Don’s worship leadership has made an indelible mark upon our congregation.” He said. “Tabernacle is known for vibrant, congregational singing. Much of this is due to Don‘s long-tenured service and his intentionality in leading us to make worship about Jesus. "

And Latham has had an impact on Startup as well. During the reception, Startup told the gathering that when Tabernacle was searching for a new pastor, he prayed not only for the church body but for himself that the Lord would provide a friend. And that is what the Lord did, he explained, in calling Latham to serve at Tabernacle. “I am eternally grateful that Tabernacle Baptist Church is an alive and prospering congregation,” he said, “with great leadership from our pastor, Patrick Latham.”

In remarks she made at the reception, church member Allison LaRue called Startup “the heart of worship at Tabernacle” and praised him for using worship to always point to One worthy of it. “You encourage everyone to sing a joyful noise unto the Lord and continually keep the focus on God," she said, “not on us.”

Rhon Carter, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s worship and music catalyst, praised Startup as “the exemplary minister of music. He has graciously dedicated his life and musical leadership to every generation at Tabernacle. He is one of the kindest and most gracious leaders I’ve known.”

As Startup and his wife prepare for the next stage in their lives, he said they are confident that now is the right time for the transition. “The Lord made it clear to me on a sabbatical that we must leave a vibrant ministry behind when we step aside,” he explained.” I am grateful to be a part of a church congregation that still sings out loud in worship to the Lord."

At the reception, LaRue summed up Startup’s career and humility, “A career such as yours can only be credited to God,” she said, “and that is exactly who you have given credit to—day after day, week after week, year after year. Thank you for your service and faithfulness.”