Baptist Life

CLEVELAND, GA – John Yarbrough has one of the most impressive ministerial resumes imaginable.  He has been a successful pastor. He has academic credentials to be envied. His denominational engagement on the associational, state, and national levels is extraordinary. His preaching opportunities have taken him to 48 states and seven foreign countries.

More than 1,300 pastors and other Christian leaders gathered for the Called to Witness evangelism conferences, which have been held at locations across the state over the past month. The latest conference was held at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.  Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. said the annual evangelism conferences play an important role in inspiring the state’s 1.4 million Georgia Baptists to reach out to the estimated 7 million people in the state who don’t go to church. They made gains in that work over the past year, with Georgia Baptist churches recording nearly 21,000 baptisms, the largest number since 2016.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Mark Marshall, a longtime pastor and former Lifeway Christian Resources director who has been serving as assistant executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for the past four years, has transitioned into the role of senior lead strategist overseeing church strengthening efforts. The Mission Board’s executive director, W. Thomas Hammond Jr., made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting of the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee.

TIFTON, Ga. — Amid a secular culture prone to reject the gospel, Christians must be more persistent than ever to fearlessly proclaim the name of Jesus, preachers told Georgia Baptists who gathered Monday at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton for the final day of a two-day evangelism conference. “In the time and place and culture we live in, there is a growing conspiracy against the name of Jesus, but we must not be afraid or ashamed to proclaim who He is and what He has done,” said H.B. Charles, pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

MACON, Ga. — Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon announced Dr. Justin Nalls as its next lead pastor Sunday after a nine-month search. Ingleside’s Pastor Search Committee and Board of Overseers recommended Dr. Nalls as the lead pastor candidate on Feb. 15 via a church e-newsletter and video. The church body voted him in as its next lead pastor on Sunday at an afternoon called church conference.

TIFTON, Ga. — Georgia Baptists passionate about sharing the gospel shouldn’t be deterred by church folks “looking like they were weaned on dill pickles.” Instead, they should gladly share the good news with others, regardless of where they live or how they live. That was the combined message of two preachers at the latest of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conferences that began Sunday night in Tifton.

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — It was an easy decision for First Baptist Church of Peachtree City to financially support Mission Georgia, the statewide outreach to orphaned children, human trafficking victims, and others in need. “We believe the causes that Mission Georgia engages are critically important to God,” said Pastor Joey Rodgers. “They are also causes our church has traditionally prioritized.” First Baptist of Peachtree City led the state in giving to the Mission Georgia offering over the past year, contributing $23,623.50 to help the Georgia Baptist Mission Board bring hope and healing to the hurting while compassionately sharing the gospel.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Nashville newspaper reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has wrapped up a year-and-a-half-long investigation that sought to determine whether Southern Baptist Convention leaders were criminally responsible for mishandling sexual abuse allegations. The Tennessean said federal investigators concluded the probe last week without charging any SBC leaders.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth, he declared, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17). When Christ saves an individual, that person does not remain the same. A transformation takes place.

TIFTON, Ga. — Final arrangements are underway for the latest in a series of Called to Witness evangelism conferences that begins Sunday evening at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event that will provide inspiration to go tell others about Christ and information on the most effective ways to do it.

KENNESAW, Ga. — A menu of wild boar, venison, and alligator, mixed with an ample serving of the gospel, proved to be an irresistible combination at Kennesaw First Baptist Church’s wild game dinner where 28 people made salvation decisions. “God is alive and well in Kennesaw,” lead pastor Perry Fowler said after the Saturday event. “He is blessing, and His kingdom is being built.”

MACON, GA – In Bibb County ask for directions to Cathedral Coffee and you will find Northway Church, a thriving fellowship in middle Georgia that is also worth a visit. Northway Church in Macon started as a mission of Vineville Baptist Church in 1995 and held its first service in 1998 as Vineville North Baptist Church. For four years Vineville Baptist and Vineville North operated as one church, two locations.

CLAYTON, Ga. – Spreading the gospel requires Christians to go and tell, Hispanic Georgia Baptists were told at a Spanish-language evangelism conference in Clayton on Saturday. Pastor Gerardo Mendoza, who leads Misión Bautista Cristo Vive, hosted the gathering at Clayton Baptist Church.

Spreading the gospel requires Christians to go and tell, Hispanic Georgia Baptists were told at a Spanish-language evangelism conference in Clayton on Saturday. Pastor Gerardo Mendoza, who leads Misión Bautista Cristo Vive, hosted the Georgia Baptist Mission Board event at Clayton Baptist Church. More than 220 participants heard Pastor Martín Vargas of Iglesia Real in Hollywood, Fla., and Ramón Osorio, director of Ethnic-Linguistic Church Planting at the North American Mission Board, speak on the need to share Jesus with others.

CORDOVA, Tenn. —  Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines reported major improvements with his cancer in a video posted Firday. In November 2023, Gaines shared with his congregation that he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, then in December shared that the cancer had spread to his lungs. On Friday, he said the cancer polyps in his lungs and the cancer in his rib were gone, according to his latest PET scan. The cancer in his kidney has also “gone down significantly,” he said.

BETHLEHEM, Ga.— Those who drove east on Highway 316 to the University of Georgia football games last fall may not have noticed Georgia Baptists’ largest church in worship attendance. Pastor Jason Britt and his excellent staff have been faithfully serving Christ and doing their work without much notice from those outside the Barrow, Oconee, and Walton County area, yet mobilizing hundreds of people to build one of the fastest-growing churches in America.

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — American evangelicals have complex perspectives on immigration and want a nuanced political response, but most want Congress to act soon. A Lifeway Research study sponsored by the Evangelical Immigration Table found evangelicals are increasingly concerned about the number of recent immigrants to the U.S. but still believe Christians have a responsibility to care for those who are in the country illegally.

MARIETTA, GA – Steve McEntyre has had two careers that have called for him to rescue the perishing, first as a firefighter and now as a minister. McEntyre, pastor of Cheatham Hills Baptist Church in Marietta, served 21 years as a firefighter in Cherokee County. “Pastors and firefighters are all about rescuing the perishing,” he said. “It takes passion and an unquenchable resolve to rescue people from burning buildings. And it takes the same kind of driving force and sense of calling to seek to rescue people from the fires of eternal retribution."

ATLANTA — The Republican majority in the state Senate, with help from Democratic colleagues, have pushed through a proposal that could legalize sports gambling in defiance of Georgia’s largest religious organization, which called for the measure to be quashed. The Senate voted 41-12 on Tuesday to pass Senate Resolution 579, another step toward putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for Georgia voters to ratify or reject.

CONYERS, Ga. —  More than 400 pastors and other Christian leaders gathered at First Baptist Church in Conyers for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conference Sunday and Monday.

CONYERS, Ga. — Reaching the lost requires Christians to step outside their comfort zones to reach people who desperately need Jesus, preachers told Georgia Baptists on the second day of an evangelism conference in Conyers. “If we’re going to reach this culture, we’re going to have to go to some places that will make us uncomfortable, and we’re going to have to do some things that make our people become uncomfortable,” said W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

CONYERS, Ga. — For  1.4 million Georgia Baptists to be successful in getting the gospel into every home in the state, they simply need to do what should come natural to all believers — tell others about Jesus. That was a theme of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conference that kicked off  Sunday evening at First Baptist Church in Conyers. “Once you fall in love with Jesus, you can’t contain it,” said Robert Smith Jr., professor of preaching at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.

SUWANEE, Ga. — An annual count of baptisms in Georgia Baptist churches has surpassed 20,000 for the first time since 2017. Steve Foster, a Georgia Baptist Mission Board evangelism consultant, said the total as of Friday morning reached 20,280, just 13 short of the 20,293 reported six years ago. The numbers are expected to continue to grow as more congregations complete what's known as the "Annual Church Profile," an annual census of Southern Baptist churches.

DALLAS, Ga. — In a classy blue suit, striped tie, and starched white shirt, Donald Voyles has the look of a man who has just stepped out of the board room of a Fortune 500 company. He’s every whit the professional, from his freshly trimmed white hair to his newly polished back shoes. At 89, Voyles may not fit the stereotypical mold of the modern church planter, but the Adrian Rogers-look is paying dividends for a congregation birthed from a back-porch Bible study at his home in suburban Atlanta four years ago.

LaGRANGE, Ga. — Georgia pastor Willie Thomas Edmondson is being remembered as a “legend" and a “warrior” as well as a “trailblazer” who served people not only from his church but also from city hall. Edmonson died Friday. In addition to being pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point, Edmondson also served as mayor of LaGrange.

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