Baptist Life

ROCK SPRINGS, Ga. — Since 2016 Peavine Baptist Church has experienced extraordinary growth by almost every metric used by churches. The growth coincides with Joel Southerland’s call to become interim pastor, which evolved into his call as the church’s senior pastor. Southerland explained, “When I arrived as interim pastor the church was averaging about 800 per week, had plateaued, and was in a slight decline. In 2017 we were the 52nd fastest-growing church in America according to Outreach Magazine."

COLUMBUS, GA – On Sunday, David Mills preached a sermon in view of a call to Beallwood Baptist Church in Columbus, and the congregation voted unanimously for him to be their senior pastor beginning next Sunday. Mills will succeed Billy Duncan who served as the church’s pastor for 21 years.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — A local official has backed off threats to fine Flat Creek Baptist Church for hosting an evangelistic outreach that he claimed violated zoning regulations. The outreach involved a car show that attracted more than 1,200 people to Flat Creek Baptist Church on Saturday.

NEW ORLEANS — More than 12,000 people, including pastors and other church leaders from across Georgia, will be making the trek to New Orleans for a potentially contentious Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday. Interim SBC Executive Committee President Willie McLauren is pitching the annual meeting as “the largest family reunion in North America” with brothers and sisters in Christ coming together to handle business matters.

DALLAS, Ga. — For Haley Grimm, a stop at a “drive-thru prayer” event last November led to church membership and baptism. Now, she is excited about sharing that experience with others. Haley, 20, who lives in Douglasville, had been going through a rough patch in her personal life when a friend suggested she come to New Hope First Baptist Church for their quarterly community outreach event.

NEW ORLEANS — Longtime Southern Baptist leader Willy Rice said Monday he intends to be the one to nominate Georgia pastor Mike Stone for SBC president at the annual meeting in New Orleans next week. “He is one of the few guys I know who possess the strength to stand in this current moment and the wisdom to know what to do,” Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Fla., said in announcing his intention to make the nomination.

BETHLEHEM, Ga. — Researchers from the Barna Group have identified stark differences of opinion about ministry between pastors and unchurched people in the communities they serve. “Eighty-four percent of pastors believe the church’s main role is to tell others about Jesus,” Barna said in an article published last week. “Non-Christians, on the other hand, think local churches should focus outward, providing practical help for people in their community.”

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Flat Creek Baptist Church plans to have the car show Saturday despite threats by a local official to slap the congregation with a $1,000 fine. “If they have a car show, they will be fined,” said Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson. Rapson’s actions have exponentially heightened interest in the annual car and organizers are planning for what’s expected to the largest crowd ever.

CLARKSTON, Ga. — Georgia Baptists are taking the gospel to the state’s rapidly growing refugee population one backpack at a time. In fact, backpacks have become crucial evangelistic tools in Georgia, a state that’s home to more than 1 million people who were born in other countries — often in places that are hostile to the gospel.

SUWANEE, Ga. – Georgia Pastor Mike Stone is promising to stand up against what he describes as a “cancel culture” within the Southern Baptist Convention if he’s elected SBC president. Meanwhile, Texas Pastor Bart Barber says he wants to finish tasks he began after being elected to the post a year ago.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — When Rick Jenkins first came to Columbus State in 2016 as director of campus ministry after a long career with the International Mission Board, he didn’t see a campus, he saw a mission field where he discipled young Christians and led others to Christ. “We loved what we did,” said the 70-year-old Jenkins who, with his wife, Cindy, is now moving into retirement. “It was never a job to us. It never seemed like work.”

HULL, Ga. — Sharon Reid is proud of her great uncle Harry Spratlin, a Georgia soldier killed in action in the waning days of World War I. Reid and her cousins gathered this Memorial Day weekend to lay a wreath at the base of his headstone in a rural cemetery just up the road from the farm where he was raised.

McDONOUGH, Ga. — An academically and athletically gifted senior class at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy has amassed more than $50 million in college scholarship offers this year, an astounding total for any school but especially one with only 81 students graduating. Class co-salutatorian Melanie Collier praised her classmates for being a “special class filled with special people.” “Something about our class is different,” Collier told her classmates in a speech during graduation exercises on Friday.

ALBANY, Ga. — Michael Catt, the groundbreaking Georgia pastor who served as executive producer of the Christian movies Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous, is facing setbacks in his battle with prostate cancer, his family said on social media Wednesday. “In recent months, his health has taken a turn for the worse, and he has had several surgeries, hospitalizations and emergency room visits,” the family said. “Recently, doctors found a tumor in his brain stem.

MARIETTA, Ga. — Georgia residents Ken and Mary Ellison are among Southern Baptists’ most faithful and exemplary career missionaries, having served the Lord in Indonesia for 32 years. However, they will soon be moving to Wisconsin to live near their daughter. It will be Georgia’s loss and Wisconsin’s gain.

STATHAM, Ga. — In 2019, Tommy Fountain, Sr., pastor of 1025 Church in Monroe, began to be impressed by the Lord to expand his church to have four new campuses. The prospect of fulfilling that vision was temporarily interrupted by the pandemic, but with faith and determination, Fountain never abandoned his vision. His giftedness in the areas of preaching, church growth, assimilating an effective staff, shepherding a flock, motivating people to serve; and fundamentally his desire to seek and follow God’s will most assuredly lead to an extension of his ministry from Walton County into the town of Statham and Barrow County.

TOCCOA, Ga. — Some students who enrolled in the new Christian learning centers that have opened in northeast Georgia are getting more than Bible-based education. They’re finding salvation. More than 30 students in Stephens, Banks and Franklin counties have made professions of faith this school year through the Christian learning centers opened over the past two years.

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Lottie Moon was in a worship service at what’s now First Baptist Church when she heard God's call her to missions, prompting her to leave Cartersville for China 150 years ago. The 4-foot, 3-inch firebrand would go on to become a giant in the world of international missions, inspiring countless Southern Baptists throughout the generations to take the gospel to the nations while at the same time anchoring this Georgia community’s commitment to global missions.

DACULA, Ga. – More than 500 Georgia Baptists prayed Thursday for messengers who will gather in New Orleans next month for the SBC annual meeting, asking the Lord to enable them to look past their own desires and concentrate on what’s best for the kingdom. “We want to be people who are obedient to God,” said W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and organizer of the prayer event. “We want revival. To have that, we have to have unity.”

HULL, Ga. – In a rural section of Clarke County, a faded government-issue tombstone stands as a silent sentinel to Pvt. Harry L. Spratlin, a World War I soldier killed in action on October 15, 1918, only weeks before the signing of the armistice that brought an end to the hostilities. Over the years, as his closest relatives passed away, Spratlin was forgotten, except for that slab of marble in a tiny cemetery in an open field in northeast Georgia.

SUWANEE, Ga. – Georgia Baptists will gather in their homes, offices and churches across the state on Thursday to pray for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting set for June 13-14 in New Orleans. Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. has invited the state’s 3,400 churches to be part of the online prayer gathering.

The International Mission Board’s newest missionary emeriti have heard the statistics of lostness. According to recent global research data, 4.6 billion people, or 59%, in the world remain unreached with the gospel. For the missionaries retiring from full-time IMB service, those statistics remain sobering, but lostness isn’t about the newest data. It’s about the faces that come to mind when they look back on the years they faithfully lived and witnessed among the unreached.

DULUTH, Ga. – A group of incoming college freshmen from across Georgia are recipients of Student Achievement Award scholarships that go to the state’s top scholars. The scholarships are awarded to Georgia Baptist students who will be attending either Brewton-Parker College, Shorter University or Truett McConnell University and are determined by academic achievement, college entrance exam scores, church and community involvement, and recommendations from their pastors.

McDONOUGH, Ga. — Brady Howard, the 33-year-old pastor of Glen Haven Baptist Church, one of Georgia’s largest and most dynamic congregations, has an assured sense of his calling and a sparkle in his eyes that testifies to the wonder of his faith. He also has a passion to preach the Gospel, love and serve his congregation, and heighten the strong missionary spirit of his beloved church.

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — For the second straight year, baptisms and giving increased among Southern Baptist congregations. In-person worship service and small group attendance also rebounded, but total membership and the number of congregations slid. 

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