Pastoral Staff

Pastor Erich McCandlessErich P. McCandless, DMin, DD, PhD

Pastor Erich McCandless, PhD, DD was born in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Growing up on a rural property near a small township, he was a country boy without regular church attendance of any sort. In July of 1982 the Lord led him to spend the summer working for a campground in the highlands of the Rocky Mountains. It was there he heard the Gospel and came under deep conviction that he too must receive Christ as Saviour.

Immediately after receiving Christ as Saviour, he felt the deep urge to witness about the peace that he had found. Through some struggles over the next five years, the Lord led him to a Baptist church were he was baptized in 1987. With his pastor’s leadership, he made plans for the ministry and began closing down the various aspects of his life, including contracts for a very successful co-owned snow removal business.

The McCandlesses (Pastor & Mrs. McC.) were married in June of 1990 and have been blessed with five children. They served with the Empire Baptist Temple (EBT – Sioux Falls, SD) as missionaries in Australia, were they organized an annual Pastor’s Retreat, which had nationwide attendance. Dr. McCandless also established an international Baptist newspaper, The South Pacific Anchor.

After nearly ten years serving overseas, the Lord lead the McCandlesses back to South Dakota. He now pastors the same church his father-in-law, Dr. Ron Tottingham pastored, for 33 years - the Empire Baptist Temple. In addition to maintaining a K-12 Christian academy, EBT operates the Great Plains Baptist Divinity School, where men and women are trained for the work of the Lord. Graduates all over the world are testimony to God’s work at EBT. God has greatly blessed the McCandlesses to oversee this vital ministry.

Pastor McCandless holds a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Religious Sociology. He has been federally commissioned to serve in the USAR as a Chaplain, as well as being a volunteer Chaplain for the Sioux Falls MEPS, the Police Department (SFPD), and Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).