This is very sad news. Pastor Phil Busbee of First Baptist Church, San Francisco, passed away June 27th. Visitation will be on July 6 and the funeral service will be July 7. All of the funeral arrangements are listed at First Baptist's website.
When I was a seminary student at Golden Gate in the late 90's, Erika and I spent months looking for a church where the Bible was taught and believed and where we could engage in ministry with a loving body of believers. We looked for several months and had trouble finding the place that we felt God wanted us to be. We went to a store front church for a few months led by Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi), and ministered to street kids in the Haight-Ashbury on Sunday afternoons. But, that wasn't where we ultimately connected. A friend of mine invited me to First Baptist Church, San Francisco where Jim Higgs was the pastor. Erika and I visited and immediately sensed God's presence and a leading to join with this wonderful church. Two weeks later, Pastor Higgs retired after 17 years or so pastoring the church. We stayed.
Eighteen months later after a long search, FBCSF hired Phil Busbee to be the pastor. He was from Southern California and had served under Thom Wolf at The Church on Brady (now Mosaic). Pastor Phil had a great heart, a focus on Jesus Christ, a love for the city and the nations, a love for people, and rock solid Biblical convictions. He took stands against homosexuality in San Francisco, yet he loved gay people sacrificially. He was a man after God's own heart. He was also an extremely generous and compassionate man. Our daughter, Ashtyn, was dedicated to the Lord by his prayers when she was just a few months old. He blessed us as we left San Francisco and moved to Alabama to minister. I returned to San Francisco on mission trips for during two summers (2000 &amp;amp;amp; 2001) after moving to my current church and he let us stay in the church basement and use the church as a home base. When we visited, he invited me to pray during a service, which was a surprise to me. I was also fortunate to visit with him at a conference that he was speaking at in Seattle in 2005 and we had rich fellowship together.
This past March, I took Ashtyn back to San Francisco on a Daddy-Daughter trip, my first return to San Francisco in 8 years. Of course, we visited First Baptist for their Sunday worship service and I was fortunate to see him one last time. He preached from a stool that he was rolled up to in a wheel chair. Because of diabetes and other health issues, Pastor Phil was very sick and frail at this point. Yet, he spoke of God's love and care for him, even though he did not understand the reasons for everything that was happening to Him. He trusted God and he was passionate for Christ, even as he faced his own decay. I sensed God's presence in that church and during the worship I was greatly moved. Pastor Phil was a leader, a pastor, and a prophet to so many people. Hundreds of seminary students came through First Baptist during the 10 years he pastored there and I know that they are better for it.
When he first came to FBCSF, Pastor Phil preached a series on worship. I'll never forget that. He started his ministry there by teaching us about passionate worship of Christ. He ended his ministry there worshiping Christ and I praise God that that is what he is doing now with the Lord. I can still see him sitting in that wheel chair in March, with his hands lifted praising His King. He will be greatly missed and even though I only sat under his ministry for about a year, I was greatly impacted by his heart for God, his passion for prayer and worship, his missional lifestyle, and his deep love for people.
I am praying for his family and for First Baptist Church, San Francisco.
~ Alan Cross, Golden Gate Alum and member of First Baptist Church, San Francisco 1997-1999.
I also found this video of Pastor Phil teaching last year at a minister's meeting about bringing transformation to San Francisco through prayer and marketplace ministry.