Palmetto Shores pastor Ronny Byrd has dedicated his life to ministry and has received state-wide recognition for his service.
In November, Byrd was honored with the Pastor of the Year award, given by Anderson University on behalf of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources and the National Conference on Preaching. The awards are divided into four categories determined by church size. Byrd was given the John E. White Award for churches up to 350 members.
“I was surprised when they called me and told me,” the pastor said. “It’s amazing what God has accomplished in 12 years.”
Byrd has served the SCBC as a regional facilitator for the Next Step Leader Development Process. The focus of his ministry is one-on-one discipleship with men. Byrd is also committed to encouraging pastors in the southeast region of South Carolina.
Byrd sat down recently with Waccamaw Publishers to discuss his journey in ministry.
“I was born and raised in South Alabama,” the pastor said. “My parents became Christians when I was a preschooler. I witnessed their change in lifestyle. I was a benefactor of my parents giving their lives to Jesus.”
Byrd and his four brothers were impacted by that moment in their parents’ lives and used the faith example to guide their lives.
In his youth, Byrd was involved with athletics and that interest gave him a platform to be an example in his community.
“I played football, baseball and basketball,” he said. “My sports life and growth in maturity opened doors for me to speak in churches. I started in ministry at 16 years old.”
Byrd attended Furman University as a ministerial college student, majoring in religion.
“It was a foundation to build on,” Byrd said of his time at Furman.
Furman was also where Byrd met his wife. The couple met at a church where Byrd was serving as youth pastor and his wife was a member of the choir.
Byrd graduated from Furman in 1975 with a BA in religion and was married that June. After graduation, the couple moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to attend seminary. In Texas, Byrd served with Elbert Baptist Seminary Church.
Byrd received his masters of divinity in 1978 from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and moved back to South Carolina, serving as pastor in Oakway, a rural community outside of Clemson, from 1978 to 1981.
“We had a very successful ministry there,” Byrd said.
The pastor then moved to Greenwood, South Carolina, and served as associate pastor of South Main Street Baptist for four years.
“In 1985, God led us here to Myrtle Beach,” Byrd said.
Byrd and his family have served three different churches on the Grand Strand.
He was associate pastor at Ocean View Baptist from 1985-1992 and started a new church in 1992 that is now called Beach Church. Byrd served there from 1992-2006.
“From Beach Church, we started Palmetto Shores twelve years ago,” Byrd said.
Byrd spoke on the journey and challenges of starting a church.
“It takes a clear call from God. It takes a passion for people who are not in anybody’s church. It takes a leadership gift to be able to recruit people to help. It takes building relationships,” he said. “Myrtle Beach is not an easy community to start a church in.”
Byrd is happy to live in the Myrtle Beach area and is amazed by the growth of the community. His congregation is comprised of residents from Conway, Pawleys Island, North Myrtle Beach and beyond.
“We can’t have enough churches to keep up with the number of people moving here,” he said.
Of Palmetto Shores, the pastor said, “we’re much bigger than what we are here, and we want to keep multiplying.”
Palmetto Shores has 275-300 members. The church employs 16 staff members, five of which are full time.
The church offers a weekday preschool program.
“It’s a pretty big operation for a small church community,” Byrd said.
Byrd said the support and commitment of his family has been a guiding resource throughout his career.
“My wife is 100 percent in,” he said. “She’s been the strength of every ministry we’ve been in. She has a gift and degree in music.”
Byrd’s two children work in ministry. His daughter is on staff with campus outreach in Charleston. His son, Morgan, completed seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological and an internship at Summit Church in Raleigh before returning to Myrtle Beach to serve at Palmetto Shores as Associate Pastor.
“My children are a great blessing,” the pastor said. “They probably have taught me more than anything I have experienced in ministry. They taught me what it takes to lead people well. They are much stronger in their faith than I was when I was in my 20s.”
Byrd enjoys watching his family grow in ministry.
“I love watching God use them in a greater way,” he said. “We’re all in process. None of us has arrived. We’re not perfect.”
Byrd believes that ministry is “not only what the church does inside the building but outside the building.”
Byrd serves as the team pastor for the state champion Myrtle Beach High School football team.
“I’ve been doing that for 20 years or so,” he said. ‘That’s a very high privilege for me.”
Locally, the church is involved with Coastal School Ministries, Barnabas Horse Foundation, Good News Clubs, YoungLife and more.
After the impact of Hurricane Florence, the Palmetto Shores community helped rebuild homes in the area and collected donations for those in need.
Mission work is very important to the people of Palmetto Shores. Byrd’s congregation has served communities in Zambia, Honduras, India and beyond.
“From the first year we started, we started sending mission teams around the world,” Byrd said. “It’s a global outreach.”
Byrd’s favorite part of being a pastor is working with people.
“I love the opportunity to reach new people I haven’t met yet,” he said. “I love to preach the Bible. That’s my source book. And I’m passionate about preaching.”
Byrd said he “cannot imagine not being a pastor.”
“I love what I get to do every day when I wake up,” he said. “There’s going to be a ministry opportunity every day. Some people wake up saying, ‘Oh Lord, it’s morning.’ I say, ‘Good morning, Lord.’”
Palmetto Shores meets at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. for worship. Children’s programs are offered during both times.
The Bridge small groups meet on Sundays and throughout the week.
Palmetto Shores Church is located at 6250 Dick Pond Road in Myrtle Beach.
For more information, visit www.psc.church or call 843-236-7880.