“I’ll never be able to give this church more than what it gave me”.
NMZ Lakeland is truly a community church. It’s a place of worship where everyone feels valued, loved, and respected. There’s absolutely no doubt that this progressive, welcoming culture starts and ends with its fearless leader, Edward L. Quary Jr. A self-proclaimed introvert, Pastor Quary admits that he happily breaks out of his shell exclusively for two things; spreading the word of God and his passion for helping people. It is this loving foundation that is helping him build a church that’s rooted in the principles of sharing and caring. With these building blocks, NMZ Lakeland is evolving into something special.
Just ask anyone who knows him. They will likely tell you that Pastor Quary has a strong presence that’s hard to ignore. While he appears to be calm and understated, he lights up every room and makes people feel safe and protected. His warmth and charm is undeniable and creates an environment that empowers people to be who they really are. These are just some of the endearing qualities that make him fit to lead a church that he has called home for most of his life.
In fact, some of the more recent struggles came during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, he was excelling at another church in nearby Sarasota, FL. However, being so intertwined in the Lakeland community, he knew that the church where he first served was in dire need of a new pastor. Unable to ignore his true calling, he ended up applying for the position and coming back home to lead NMZ Lakeland in May of 2020.
While pastoring a church in the heart of a pandemic wasn’t easy, the spirit of the community felt during these times reassured him that he made the right decision. The summer of 2020 saw a series of outdoor church sessions with people praising the Lord as they sat in lawn chairs in their front yards. They celebrated the teachings from the Bible while standing the mandatory 6-feet apart, searching for shade under decade old trees. Curious members of the community listened carefully from the street corners and nearby basketball courts – searching for some hope for better days with each word from Pastor Quary. In a time of immense uncertainty and sickness, the community banded together around the church. This was the Lord’s doing. When everything else seemed to be falling apart, it was the church that got stronger.
While Pastor Quary is always complimentary of the regime that came before him, he is focused on making NMZ Lakeland better than ever. One of his favorite quotes reads; “We cannot love the church of the past more than we do the church of the future”. This provides the perfect segue to his vision for the near future. When asked about the church’s 3-5-year plan, he stresses the importance of creating a tech savvy ministry for the next generation.
“Even though we have a rich past, no one is being saved in the past. But, people will be saved in the future. We want to create a vibrant future where there are disciples who are making disciples at every age,” he said.
Pastor Quary believes that nothing is more important than passing on the importance of worship to the next generation and he believes that this can’t be done without embracing the concept of shared leadership. As Lakeland continues to grow at rapid rates, he knows that the influx of new residents will lead to more members in the church as well. It’s his vision that people will accept their calling to serve and be a part of the church.
Thankfully, he won’t have to do any of the Lord’s work alone. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Rahsheia Thompson Quary and to this union God has added two beautiful children. As a family man, he believes that his wife and children are his first ministerial priority. With his family and a great church community behind him, look for NMZ Lakeland to continue to do great things.