WINSTON — Four miles west of Douglasville on I-20 travelers will come to exit # 30, which is Post Road and the community of Winston. Winston is a small, unincorporated town, but the home of a thriving fellowship of faith – Ephesus Baptist Church.
Dr. Billy Godwin has been the pastor of Ephesus for 25 years and the church recognized his quarter century of service on Sunday, January 28, 2018 with a special day of celebration honoring him, his wife, Miriam, and their three children, Hayley (married to Taylor Echols), Harris and Hope.
Godwin is a graduate of Baylor University, Waco, TX, and received a Master’s Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. While in Dallas he served as a pastoral intern and interim College Minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church.
After graduating from DTS, Godwin returned to his home church in Collierville, TN, where he served First Baptist Church as Assistant to the Pastor and Minister to Youth for several years. In January 1993 he came with his new bride, Miriam Harris, to serve as pastor of Ephesus Baptist Church.
A video highlighting Godwin’s 25 years of ministry, including comments of blessing from adults and children alike was shown at both morning worship services. Flowers were placed on the Lord’s Supper Table in recognition of Miriam’s service as the church pianist for 25 years. Hayley and Hope provided the special music for the morning worship services.
Jason Loudermilk, missionary strategist for the West Metro Association, presented Pastor Godwin with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Association. Mark Reeves, chairman of the church’s personnel committee, expressed his appreciation to Billy and Miriam for their steadfast love for the Lord and the church and presented both of them with an anniversary gift.
J. Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and his wife, Janice, were present for the special occasion; and White expressed gratitude for Godwin’s service to Georgia Baptists as a member of the Executive Committee and the Administration Committee. White stated, “I know that I can always depend upon Billy using his wisdom and discretion in helping us make prudent and practical decisions.”
White preached a powerful evangelistic sermon on John 3:16 giving personal illustrations to describe God’s love for “whosoever will” receive His gift of salvation. He explained that no one is beyond the limits of God’s grace citing Romans 5:20 where Paul wrote, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
A reception was held in the church atrium from 5 to 7 o’clock in honor of the Godwins; and many people were present to offer their expressions of gratitude for the pastor and his wife and family.
Jeff and Lori Lewis, who have worked alongside their pastor for the entire course of his ministry at Ephesus, expressed their appreciation by saying, “In order to enjoy twenty-five successful years in any endeavor, it takes a lot of work. And Billy has been proficient and tireless in doing the work of the ministry, and in equipping others along the way to join in and help. And most importantly, he has always given the glory to God and never fails to point us toward Jesus. Our church has been blessed to have both Billy and Miriam.”
Kevin Thrash, a Sunday School teacher, explained, “I have been on mission trips with Billy, shared some of my most heart felt prayer requests with him, and seen him minister to my class members when loved ones were in desperate circumstances. I’ve served on committees with him that sometimes had difficult work to perform, and I’ve visited in homes with him when he delivered the gospel to people seeking the Lord. He’s baptized my children, blessed me with his singing, and been a faithful deliverer of God’s Holy Word.
“I’ve seen him guide his staff in a manner that encourages them and challenges them. And, he’s challenged me to have more of a servant’s heart and pursue a life of holiness.
“While it has taken me years to experience these things first hand, I really knew all of this the first time I attended Ephesus. Within 10 minutes, I knew God was calling me to Ephesus. I am grateful for Pastor Billy’s leadership.”
Sandra Harvey, who is active in a variety of church ministries, exclaimed, “Billy is not only a blessing to Ephesus Baptist Church, but also to our community. He teaches at Douglas County Jail and has led our church to become active in so many local ministries. Our church mission also stretches across the globe to other countries. Our pastor leads our church so that our mission statement is not just a statement, but our mission.
“My first visit to EBC was actually on a Wednesday night where I met two young ladies who invited me to their Sunday School class. I went to the class and on my second Sunday, I joined. I met Pastor Billy on the next Wednesday night and on Sunday, he said, “Hi Sandra”. He remembered my name. How did he do that?
“I immediately fell in love with the teaching of Pastor Billy. He does not scream or yell from the pulpit, but he does tell it like it is. He preaches he Word of God without apology.
“My Dad was a Pastor. I know the sacrifices of a Pastor firsthand. It is a calling on your life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
“We are so blessed to have such a loving pastor. He and his family are a blessing to all of us. I am so glad to be a part of the Family of God; and I am so glad to be a part of the Family of God at Ephesus!”
At the conclusion of the Sunday morning services Godwin expressed his love for his church and throughout the day it was manifestly obvious that the feeling was mutual.