Jordan siblings make trek to Baptist Village to deliver check, honor their parents’ love for the ministry
WAYCROSS — Baptist Villages’ roots are about as deep in Dr. Tommy Jordan’s family as the massive oak tree in the center of the retirement community’s primary campus here.
The tree, estimated to have been a young sapling in the woods of Ware County when the nation was being founded, features prominently on the community’s website and as its logo. Known as The Village Sentinel, it serves as a reminder of God’s lasting, sheltering love, says Vice President of Administration and Advancement Eric Mathison.
Many retired Georgia Baptists have sought solace under that shade of that tree as they chose the Baptist Village network for their later years housing and healthcare needs. Few could claim a legacy to the ministry and its peace-giving campus as the Jordan and Wilder families of South Georgia.
This story begins with Tommy Jordan’s grandparents and their ministry-rich legacy of serving Christ through Georgia Baptists. It ends with most of the descendants of that family returning to that Great Oak to honor their parents and grandparents and the ministry of the Village. Tommy Jordan, who celebrates his decade of ministry next week as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Gray, begins the story which weaves together the two families.
“When our grandfather’s health deteriorated, he decided that Baptist Village is where he wanted to go to live out his days. He was T.H. ‘Herman’ Wilder and his wife, our grandmother, was named Irene. They served together in Georgia Baptist churches as pastor and wife,” he begins.
With his ministry years at a close and his health becoming fragile, Herman Wilder entered Baptist Village’s skilled nursing care facility and Irene lived in the apartments. In time Herman Wilder passed away and his wife, Irene, moved into the same nursing care facility enjoyed by her husband.
“Our grandmother said Baptist Village was her home and she didn’t want to leave,” Tommy Jordan remembers.
That is when a second generation became grafted into the story. The Jordan siblings’ mother, Floye Wilder Jordan, drove the family’s RV from Vidalia where she and her husband, minister James Ansley Jordan, Sr., lived at the time. She spent weekdays at Baptist Village with her mother and returned home on weekends. Her interest led her to service as a Baptist Village trustee in the early 1990s. Following her passing her husband, J. Ansley Jordan, was invited to serve out her term.
“Our parents were delighted that, during their terms on the Board, the final plans for the new Independent Living Villas were developed.
“Dad, who served in the ministry for more than 60 years, was noted more for his years of service as a director of missions for several associations than he was for his pastorate and the church he helped launch. He chose Baptist Village later in life and lived for a while as a resident at the ministry’s Plantation Suites site in Macon. He passed away at age 97 in 2010.”
Many Georgia Baptists will be familiar with J. Ansley Jordan Sr.’s ministry. He was a graduate of Norman Park College, Mercer University, and Southern Seminary. He served as director of missions for Mallary Baptist Association, Thomas County Baptist Association, Grady Baptist Association, and Daniell Baptist Association.
In addition, he pastored churches in Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma and was pastor emeritus of Smith Street Baptist Church in Vidalia and First Baptist Church of Collins.
He was married to his wife and mother of their children, Floye Wilder Jordan, for 51 years until her death. J. Ansley Jordan Sr. was eventually married to Elizabeth Tomberlin for 15 until hisdeath.
That brings us to Sept. 6, when the Jordan descendants gathered at the Waycross campus of Baptist Village Retirement Communities for a family ceremony of sorts. The occasion was J. Ansley Jordan Sr.’s birthday.
“Mother and Dad always said they wanted to give a percentage from the sale of their home to Baptist Village. We wanted to honor that request and make a personal donation rather than just place a check in the mail,” Tommy Jordan recounted.
Honoring their spirit
“We wanted to honor their spirit, their will, in showing appreciation of this ministry to senior adults.”
That’s when family members talked among themselves of how they could deliver that gift from their forbearers. They decided they would clear their schedules and make a joint pilgrimage to that ancient oak to present the check and, once again, spend a little time on the campus.
“It’s not often that you receive a check in excess of $15,000 from the estate of a pastor,” said Mathison, who came to the ministry from the pastorate. “And it’s not often, if ever, that you receive such an amount in person.
“Many family members just place the check in the mail and that is totally acceptable. But meeting all the extended family members in person was especially meaningful.”
Rather than simply placing the check in the mail, the siblings felt the need to personally deliver the check and spend time at Baptist Village because of their parent’s commitment to the ministry.
“We talked among ourselves and decided this would be in keeping with mom and dad’s wishes. When the day rolled around we had myself, my sisters Jean Jordan Kropa from Marietta, Anita Jordan Sparks from Macon, and Tricia Jordan Abernathy from Vidalia. Due to family conflicts in Florida only my brother, Dr. James Ansley Jordan, Jr. from Vero Beach, FL, was unable to attend.
Baptist Village President/CEO Delos Sharpton told the family, “The faithfulness of your parents to Baptist Village and the cause of Christ is apparent by their intent to be a part of and then support Baptist Village through their estate.”
Mathison added, “The faithful commitment to Baptist Village is often seen through a gift or remembrance by those in our Georgia Baptist fellowship. The epitome of that commitment and faithfulness was recently shown to Baptist Village through a gift from the James Ansley Jordan, Sr. Estate.”
Baptist Village is an agency of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, a non-profit and benevolent organization, governed by a Board of Trustees. In two locations – Waycross and Macon – Baptist Village provides housing and healthcare ministries for senior adults. On the Waycross campus is the J. Olan Jones Health Care Center (254 bed skilled nursing facility), the Village Lake Suites Personal Care Home (28 beds), and The Villas Waycross (46 Independent Living Villas). In Macon is the Plantation Suites Personal Care Home (50 beds) and Plantation Villas (45 Independent Living Villas).
Baptist Village Retirement Communities ministry is guided by the motto of “making lives better for senior adults and their families.”