Additionally, he told the Father that he did not want to be one of those pastors/preachers (Larry’s way of understanding it at the time) who just fell in line with the status quo. Even with an immature faith, Larry knew that, with so many different churches in the world, something wasn’t quite right. Just prior to this, Larry and Barbra had found a church that they felt comfortable in, not for theological reasons, but simply because the people were kind. Once Larry felt the call, various physical symptoms began to occur to him every Sunday morning that seemed to be working to prevent the two from going to the church. After four weeks, or so, Larry thought that he should speak to his uncle who was a pastor. The two went to his church one Sunday evening and were anointed with oil and prayed over regarding the physical symptoms and Larry’s calling. The symptoms stopped and Larry felt he had received the confirmation of his call.
With little guidance, Larry made assumptions about what he needed to do. He spoke with the pastor of the church where they attended and began the process of being licensed as a minister, and he also transferred his schooling to a BA in pastoral ministry program. Larry felt he was grasping at straws as he tried to be obedient to what the Father had asked him to do. He simply did not understand what the call was all about, but he moved ahead the best he knew how.
During this time, marriage and life was not easy. Any of the many trials, struggles, and temptations that the two faced could have been the end of it all. In spite of the difficulties and shortcomings, the Father began to bless them with children; Lily was born in 1999, Eli in 2001, Wynnie in 2003, and Mati in 2008. What blessings they have been!
Larry was licensed as a minister in 1999, and shortly after began to fill pastoral positions; youth pastor (1999-2002), associate pastor (2002-2007), and pastor (2007-2010). Throughout this time, Larry also completed his BA at Trinity College of the Bible, and a MA in theological studies and an MDiv in counseling at Grace College and Theological Seminary. More importantly was what the Father was beginning to show Larry and Barbra in 2002. Through some of the most humble means, the Father began to urge them to question some of the assumptions they had held regarding faith and practice. Larry and Barbra had eagerly embraced some of the foundational concepts of the Anabaptist denomination of which they were members. Of course, adult baptism (immersion) was one of the distinguishing points, but it was the overarching belief of returning to the faith and practice of the 1st century believers which really connected with Larry. This passionately drove his learning and desire to implement what he learned. With a college and seminary’s library at his fingertips, Larry began to study as much outside of the context of his classes as he did for his classes. What he began to find would change his theology as well as his career and his family’s life for ever.
Larry and Barbra began to realize that many of the things believed in churches, taught in Bible colleges and seminaries, and practiced by Christians were simply not biblical. They themselves had earnestly and faithfully believed and practiced things that completely contradicted Scripture, not to mention the life, faith, purpose, and practices of the Savior. All this would begin to slowing change in the Rice household over the next several years as they attempted to align their beliefs and practices with Scripture and the One they now referred to as Yeshua Messiah.
Eventually, Larry and Barbra left their denomination and the idea of Larry being a “career” pastor. By that time, they had been keeping the Sabbath, other appointed times, and other commands of the Torah (first five books of the Bible) for several years. They knew that they needed to start a Torah honoring Sabbath fellowship for their family and others. In July of 2010, The Gathering Place was established with the Rice family, two other couples whom Larry and Barbra had known, two families from Church of God 7th Day, and some other individuals. Amazingly, nearly 150 different people spent some significant time as a part of this group from 2010 to 2016. Sadly, none of the founding people remain with the group today. Many who had been a part of The Gathering Place blessed and strengthened the faith of the Rice family, and those relationships will continue to be cherished.
At this time, the Rice family is on a Sabbatical from fellowship commitments and responsibilities, as they seek what the Father has for them next. They are ever ready and willing to follow His voice and guidance, but thankfully accept His current gift of rest. Larry and Barbra have learned a lot about ministering to people, founding/leading a fellowship, raising a family, marriage, and themselves. The Rice family plans to take the knowledge and wisdom they gained into whatever future plans the Father has for them.
Larry is currently the supervisor of the spiritual care department of Indiana’s largest hospice organization. Larry has been in hospice chaplaincy for over 8 years and is in the middle of a MBA program. Barbra returned to school in the last couple of years and has just recently completed her BS in business management. She had previously left her schooling, and career in insurance, to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mother when Lily was first born. Lily is a blooming musician, Eli is an inquisitive talmid, Wynnie is a blossoming artist, and Mati is a passionate lego builder.