BLACKSHEAR — Pastor Mike Stone was recognized by Emmanuel Baptist Church for 20 years of service on Nov. 6. As Pastor Stone was in the process of leading the evening service, Associate Pastor Lynn Harris interrupted him, commandeered the platform, and announced to the congregation they would celebrate the noteworthy anniversary of their pastor.
“We are honored and pleased beyond words that we have a pastor who heeded God’s call, answered God’s call, and stayed faithful to that call,” Harris stated.
There were also video greetings from some of Stone’s closest friends. Don Hattaway, current pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, and his wife, Sonia, extended their congratulations to the Emmanuel pastor on 20 years of distinguished service at the church. Stone actually succeeded Hattaway as pastor of Emmanuel after having served as his minister of music for six years.
Additional video greetings were given by Brad Whitt, pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, and Terry Trivette, pastor of Sharon Heights Baptist Church in Birmingham, who stated, “I would say that pound-for-pound Mike Stone is the best preacher I have ever heard, but at 120 pounds soaking wet with a suit on that is not saying enough. Mike Stone is the best preacher week in and week out I’ve ever heard.”
One of Southern Baptists’ most notable pastors, Johnny Hunt of First Baptist in Woodstock, also extended his words of commendation via video. Hunt added, “There is no such thing as a great work built overnight or in a few years. So, you folks [at Emmanuel] are enjoying the Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting ministry of Mike and Andrea simply because of their willingness to stay… We love you! We thank God for you, and we rejoice with you!”
Growth requires updates, renovations
Emmanuel had broken ground for the construction of a new 1,000-seat worship center just prior to Stone becoming the senior pastor, but he took up the mantle of responsibility and led the church through the completion of that project and back to one Sunday morning worship service (prior to moving into the new facility the church had three morning worship services). However, in less than a year the church had to go to two morning worship services in the new sanctuary.
Under Stone’s ministry the church has also added a new administration building adjacent to the new auditorium that houses the offices and educational space. The student ministry building has also been renovated and remodeled.
Associate Pastor Harris stated, “Under Pastor Mike’s leadership Emmanuel has experienced continued and steady growth. In the 14 years he has served as senior pastor Emmanuel has seen 1,027 people baptized and averaging 1,100 people in worship attendance. Giving has continually grown allowing Emmanuel to be debt-free for the last six years.
“The church currently gives more than 20% of its undesignated receipts to mission causes through the Cooperative Program, the local association, and local missions causes. The church is also significantly involved in national and international mission trips.”
Scotty Hayes, minister to students, commented, “Brother Mike and I share the same philosophies and goals for our student ministry. We have a great and genuine love for each other and work hand-in-hand in our student ministry. Our students love him and love his preaching and teaching.”
Matt Rodgers, minister to children and families, testified, “I am privileged to work alongside Brother Mike week in and week out and have the joy of sitting under his preaching ministry Sunday after Sunday. Over the past several years my family and I, along with countless others, have experienced spiritual growth through his leadership and pulpit ministry. Brother Mike is a true spiritual blessing and I am honored to call him my pastor, boss, and friend.”
The Emmanuel pastor is a graduate of Valdosta State University and has studied toward a Masters of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pastor Stone has not only served his church with faithfulness and effectiveness, but also is greatly involved in the life of the denomination. He currently serves as the chairman of the executive committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention and is a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. His giftedness as a preacher of the Gospel is underscored not only by him faithfully feeding his flock in Blackshear, but also by being in demand as a preacher for revivals and Bible conferences across the nation.
Mike and Andrea Stone are the parents of four children: Michaela, Andrew, Sarah, and Matthew