James Brassard (1956-2020)CCPC Pastor from 2004-2020
Retirement Tribute - July 2020
Rev. James Brassard retired from CCPC -- and from ministry – on May 31, 2020. James has been a dynamic and passionate leader during his time at CCPC and we have been very lucky to have him.
When the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) that was responsible for bringing James Brassard to CCPC first learned of James’ existence more than 16 year ago, one particular video of James immediately stood out. In that video James rode a donkey into the church on Palm Sunday. The lengths that he was willing to go to bring the story of Jesus to life was so fresh, fun, and real.The PNC reviewed countless resumes and watched many sermon videos. James instantly stood out. They invited both James and Andrea for a visit. They watched as he delivered a sermon at a church in Laurel and they were hooked! The PNC took James and Andrea to lunch and had a wonderful time getting to know them both. They knew then and there that they wanted to invite them to Bowie.
James was such a good fit for CCPC. He could relate to all age groups and more importantly, they could relate to him! His sermons made the Word relevant to today and were thoughtful, rich in faith, and often innovative. James preached to CCPC for the first time in July of 2004. The congregation voted to have him installed as our pastor. James thrived at CCPC – and CCPC thrived with James.
The James Brassard years at CCPC have been marked by service -- service to our church, our community, our region, and the world. During James’ tenure he has gone on several Habitat for Humanity mission trips. Additionally, he has supported numerous mission trips to Honduras to install clean water systems, youth to Mexico missions to build houses, and Warm Nights hosted in our church twice a year. Whether it’s wielding a rake for fall clean-up or being the first (and often last) up the ladder on Habitat trips, James is always all in, and participating in the life of the church and the congregation.
While on Habitat for Humanity mission trips, James is part builder, part cheerleader and part good shepherd as he tirelessly works, offers encouragement and motivates the exhausted to get the job done. While his skill and strength are appreciated, it’s his enthusiasm that helps get the crew over the finish line.
James is an intergenerational chameleon; he interacts effortlessly with all age groups. He is as loved and admired by the kids in Sunday school as he is by some of CCPC’s original founding members. When it’s not Sunday, you could find him early on a Saturday morning at Panera discussing a recent book or with the Paper Tigers or at VBS or partnering with a teen for a game at Wednesday Night Live.
And, James is a fierce competitor, whether it’s on the CCPC softball team or playing a game of Code Names with teens on a mission trip.
James loves conversation, and he definitely has a point of view! He freely shares his opinions on current events, sports, and politics (whether one agrees or disagrees politically, James is always justice-oriented). This gives those of us around him a richer, more three-dimensional view of who he is and how he approaches issues of life and faith.
James’ intellect is obvious to anyone who has ever listened to one of his sermons. His ability to take his training and analysis of the scripture and turn it into something relevant in our everyday lives is second to none. When he preaches on dark or difficult scriptures, he lets us know that he also finds them dark and difficult, and then he leads us through them.
James also has a real depth of character – one that is rooted in his faith. He is a serious man who does not take himself too seriously. And, he can change with the times as he showed when CCPC began offering a contemporary service three-years ago and James embraced it.
We often think of God as a weaver and our lives as a tapestry. The many strands of James’ years at CCPC -- and his many skills and assets -- have been woven into a rich tapestry. We have been so fortunate to have someone who combined his intellect with his enthusiasm and competitive (and yes, sometimes opinionated) spirit. Someone willing to ride a donkey down the aisle of the church (as the children’s ministry did again several years ago) to bring the Word alive. Someone with James’ depth of character leading us for sixteen years.
The church now looks back and rejoices at the wonderful ministry – and beautiful fabric – that God has blessed us with.
It was a sad time when Reverend James Brassard's ill health precipitated his retirement in May 2020. A stage IV malignant brain tumor (glioblastoma) took him from CCPC again. He died peacefully at home on November 4, 2020. He had served CCPC faithfully, to the end.
From James Brassard's Obituary
December 9, 1956 — November 4, 2020
Rev. James Dewart Brassard, 63, passed away at his home on November 4. James was born to Rev. LaVern and Mary Brassard on December 9, 1956 in Connell, Washington, and spent his boyhood in Vancouver, WA. He graduated from Whitworth College in 1979 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1984. In 1994, he married the love of his life, Andrea Belanus, in Wayne, NJ.
James held pastorates in Slippery Rock, PA, Wayne, NJ, and was senior pastor of Christian Community Presbyterian Church (CCPC) in Bowie, MD, from July 2004 to May 2020. James’ ministry was marked by his many acts of service to his church, community, and region. His unbridled and contagious enthusiasm helped support mission trips to install clean water systems in Honduras, annual building weeks for Habitat for Humanity and others, Warm Nights shelter weeks, and other community service-oriented projects. He was a hands-on pastor, taking seriously the call to feed the hungry, welcome strangers, provide clothing, visit prisoners, and heal and comfort the sick.
......(Read the complete obituary here.)