On July 7, 1968, I was ordained to the Gospel ministry by the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. It was a moment in my life that I will always remember and cherish. So, during the past week I surpassed 50 years in the Gospel ministry. It truly doesn’t seem like 50 years. The time has flown by and God has blessed in so many remarkable ways.
Never could I have imagined that God would give me the privilege of serving Georgia Baptists as executive director across a little bit more than half of that fifty years. I never dreamed that God would call me to do anything other than serve as pastor of a local Baptist church. I was always happy in the opportunity to pastor a congregation. My very first church was the Dabney Baptist Church in Holton, Indiana.
During those years that I was in seminary, Janice and I would travel over 80 miles every weekend to drive to southeast Indiana from the seminary in Louisville to be with our open country church over the weekend. Every summer we lived in the church’s parsonage and enjoyed spending more time with the members of our church, countless hours of recreation with the young people, and some time of good, hard work helping my farmers put up their hay for the coming season.
I also had the privilege of serving as associate pastor with my father at First Baptist Montgomery for a little over two years after which I came to the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton. Two of our daughters were born in Carrollton and we enjoyed a marvelous time of ministry there. The friendships we made at Tabernacle are still very dear to us.
Today (July 11), Janice and I enjoyed a reunion of our church staff from Tabernacle. We shared lunch together and laughed about the good times we enjoyed in Carrollton. Back in those days, I am sure we would have been pleased to know that we would be getting together and enjoying one another’s company after more than 37 years.
God then opened the door for me to serve the First Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky as senior pastor for 11 years in one of the most beautiful areas of the entire country. We enjoyed watching our girls grow up through elementary, middle school, and high school. Those wonderful formative years and the friends made by members of our family have continued to bless our lives.
As retirement from my position as executive director approaches at the end of this year, Janice and I have had many conversations about how God has wonderfully blessed our ministry and our family during our years of serving with Georgia Baptists. These have been the best days as I have served among you and have been awed time and time again by the way God has intervened to bless Georgia Baptists. I express gratitude to every Georgia Baptist who has blessed and inspired me across these years. I love you and will always treasure the privilege that has been mine to serve among you.
Fifty years in the Gospel ministry presents me with the opportunity once again to thank our Lord for being such a precious Savior, for giving me such a marvelous opportunity in ministry, and for repeatedly demonstrating His powerful presence and His grace.