Longtime Georgia Baptist state missionary Waldo Woodcock signs a Bible at a State Bible Drill meeting as his wife, Sarah, looks on. Woodcock led the Discipleship Training department for the Georgia Baptist Convention (now Georgia Baptist Mission Board) for 28 years. He died Dec. 26 at 90 years old. JUDY ROGERS/Special
WAYCROSS — Waldo Martin Woodcock, a resident of Baptist Village Retirement Community and former Georgia Baptist discipleship director, died Dec. 26. He was 90.
Woodcock served as a pastor for Georgia congregations near Dawson and Millen, associate pastor at Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah and First Baptist Marietta, and pastor at Isle of Hope Baptist Church in Savannah as well as director of missions for Floyd County Baptist Association. The longest time in his ministry, though, was 28 years spent as a Georgia Baptist state missionary in the area of Discipleship Training.
“It was all about discipleship for Waldo,” said Dennis Rogers, who worked in that department alongside Woodcock from 1987 until the latter’s retirement in 1998. “No matter your age, interests, or gifts to the church, you needed to not only grow in your own discipleship but learn to train other people.”
Back then, Rogers added, Sunday School and Discipleship Training covered several areas of church life for Georgia Baptists, including church recreation, the dramatic arts, senior adults, administration, single adults, and student ministries outside of youth evangelism, which fell under the broader Evangelism department.
“Waldo also started a ministry for church secretaries,” said Rogers. “He felt they often got overlooked in their importance to the church.”
David Hammons, 46, serves on staff at First Baptist Church in Conyers in an administrative role over finances. But his relationship with Woodcock and his wife, Sarah, began much earlier as Hammons grew up across the street from the couple in Conyers.
“I must’ve been in first grade when they moved here,” he remembered. “The most remarkable thing about him was his relationship with Sarah. They were the greatest example of a godly, giving, generous, couple. They didn’t have children of their own, but loved everyone as their own.”
‘Ahead of his time’
Hammons stated Woodcock as “ahead of his time” when it came to discipleship. “For a long time, people were trying to build churches through numbers. Waldo emphasized [the individual] being a solid follower of Jesus.”
A 2014 Index article about Woodcock pointed out many things for which he is remembered. Giving out multiple jars of honey across the state. Lip-syncing Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival,” complete in overalls and a hat. While Hammons knows him for those as well, it’s other long-lasting contributions he remembers best.
“In high school I went on a mission trip to Panama with Dennis Rogers. Waldo connected me to go. The relationships I started and ministries I connected to on that trip changed my life. Waldo planted seeds and made disciples everywhere.
“Though he ‘retired’ in 1998, he never stopped working and serving. He and Sarah were always out and about all over the state.”
Ministry to the end
Hammons cited Woodcock’s work with Antioch Baptist Church in Waycross that continued quite literally up to when the longtime state missionary breathed his last.
“He had been working with them for quite some time to raise funds for restoration and preservation of their building. Even after he had a stroke on Nov. 13, he was still trying to communicate with us regarding their building fund. He was passionate about completing this project literally with his last words.”
In his obituary, a mention is made for those wanting to honor Woodcock’s work with Antioch Baptist Church. Gifts can be made toward the Historic Antioch Baptist Church Building Fund, c/o Ms. Perry Simpson, 1309 Cherokee Drive., Waycross, GA 31501.
“Waldo was a churchman,” Rogers stated. “He believed in the full program of the church. Discipleship was the key. We must help people grow in discipleship and train others to do it.
“He was a prince of a guy from another generation. What he taught and modeled has value for every generation.
“It’s foundational stuff.”
Woodcock was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Sarah, last year. He is survived by his niece, Ivey Graham Peterson, of Billings, MT; nephews James Alva Ivey II, of Rockledge, and Elbert Austin Ivey, of Murfreesboro, TN; sister-in-law Rebecca Youngblood Ivey, of Dublin, and a number of great-nieces, great-nephews, and cousins.
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.