A local congregation will say goodbye to its pastor on Sunday morning. Billy Simar, pastor at First Assembly of God, has accepted a call to the First Assembly of God in Manhattan.

He wasn’t looking for another church.

“This is our home, we love Pratt, love the people, love the schools. Everything about Pratt is good,” Simar said.

His brother-in-law, a pastor in Kansas City, told him the position was open in Manhattan and that he would be a good fit and encouraged him to send a resume.

The brother-in-law was persistent, and the short story is that Simar was accepted for the job.

He believes the Lord was leading him. For the sermon he was invited to preach at the Manhattan church, he chose his text from Isaiah 43:19, which in short form, says, “Behold, I do a new thing.” He thought the sermon went well, but said, “I just didn’t feel it.”

He was voted in by a 91 percent margin.

Later that day, at dinner with the new board, he received a text from a Pratt church member who sends a random scripture — one of 6,000 verses in the Bible — every day. It read, “see, I’m doing a new thing now.”

“I felt the Holy Spirit speaking,” Simar said.

Simar has served First Assembly of God in Pratt for a total of 15 years; two as children’s and youth pastor and 13 as senior pastor.

The most significant thing about his ministry in Pratt, he said, is that people’s lives have been changed through Jesus Christ — even people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. He told the story of a young woman who drove to the church every Sunday, but sat in her car in the parking lot. Finally, the woman’s counselor, with permission, told Simar what she was doing. The next Sunday, Simar’s wife and another woman went to the parking lot and invited her in.

Her life was changed; unfortunately, she died in a car wreck a short time later.

Church leaders have already met with the district superintendent to begin the process of selecting a new senior pastor. Simar trusts that the board, whom he praised as “a great group of men in leadership for a number of years,” and existing staff, including a church administrator, a children’s pastor and a youth pastor, will keep the congregation healthy until a new pastor is hired.

“They have been very gracious to us,” he said. “It is bittersweet for all of us.”