McCAYSVILLE, Ga. — Dr. David Drake faithfully served as the pastor of churches in Georgia and Florida for more than 30 years including First Baptist Church in Cartersville, Palm Springs Baptist Church in Palm Springs, Fla., Central Baptist Church in Waycross, First Baptist Church in Ellijay, and currently First Baptist Church McCaysville & Copperhill. He has served these churches with distinction and faithfulness.
While serving as pastor of the Ellijay church, Drake was also a trustee at Truett McConnell University. In 2014 TMU President Emir Caner began his search for the school’s first director of Church Relations and Drake became one of the potential candidates for that position.
Sometimes pastors are reluctant to leave the pastorate because of a deep sense of God’s call to preach the Gospel and shepherd the flock of God. Occasionally good men are hesitant to resign a local church to accept a position in a Christian college or a denominational role because of the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 11:29 which states, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
However, those who are confronted with that kind of decision generally discover that preaching opportunities are frequently extended and the privilege of ministering to pastors is one of the blessed benefits that come to those who make the transition of moving from the pastorate to another role in Christian ministry.
Sensing that God was moving him to a new phase of ministry Drake’s last Sunday at Ellijay was January 4, 2015. His resignation was a step of faith because the position at TMU had not been offered to him at that time. He testified, “I know God was at work in my life even though initially I was only one of ten possible candidates for the position at Truett McConnell.
“It was not until September 2014 at the TMU Golf Tournament that Dr. Caner turned to me and said, ‘I need you to be my Barnabas to relate to Georgia Baptists. There are 3,600 pastors in our state. Many of them are beyond stressed out and need encouragement.’
“However, it was not until the trustees met in March of 2015 that Dr. Caner announced that I was his choice for the new position. He shared his heart on the issue of giving back to the church.”
“It’s not the job of the church to serve the college,” Caner said. “It’s the job of the college to serve the church.”
Drake added, “My sense of calling to the position I was offered at TMU was indisputable, almost like the voice of God directing my path to serve the University and Georgia Baptists in a role that would build bridges between the school and Georgia Baptist pastors and associational missionaries.
Drake traveled across the state from Ringgold to Kingston and from Columbus to Savannah to talk to pastors who were having problems personally or challenges in the church. His miles of traveling were almost incalculable; and he averaged being gone from home two nights every week for more than eight years.
He explained, “I learned to be a good listener; and probably listened twice as much as I talked, but hearing pastors bear their hearts and having the opportunity to pray with them was most rewarding. My role at TMU gave me the opportunity to continue to live out my life verse: ‘So he (David) shepherded them (Israel) according to the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands’ (Psalm 78:72 NKJV).
“One of the blessings of being a part of the University staff was getting to know Dr. Caner and see his heart for the students and his passionate desire to make the school a bastion for truth. The TMU president is a genuine leader and a great visionary. The trustees often said, ‘Unfortunately, we cannot afford the vision of our president.’
“Dr. Caner knows how to feel the pulse of those around him. He wants the University to be strong academically, Biblically driven and Christ honoring; and he has put strong, wise, and godly people around him to help make Truett McConnell University an institution of higher learning that Georgia Baptist can send their students to with confidence that they will receive a first-class Christian education.”
Over time Drake merited additional responsibilities including alumni relations and financial development requiring more traveling and as he approached his 70th year, God began to nudge him toward serving a local church once again. During his tenure at Truett McConnell, he served as the interim pastor of six different churches, but his last one was the church in McCaysville & Copperhill. He admitted, “There was something about serving as interim there that felt different.”
In September 2022 David Drake accepted the call to be the pastor of the McCaysville/Copperhill Baptist Church where the membership affectionately claim to be “a church with two names sharing one Savior.” Interestingly, the church is near the celebrated “Blue Line” painted through the intersection of the two towns: and you can have your picture taken with one foot in Tennessee and one foot in Georgia. The picturesque twin towns situated along the Toccoa River are in Fannin County Georgia and Polk County, Tenn.
Sometimes the circuitous route our Heavenly Father maps out for us is mysterious and unexpected, but when we faithfully follow His leading, we discover that He was right in his directions. Many Christians may question God’s leadership during junctures of their ministry, but when they come near the end of their journey they can look back and see that God was right all the time.
David Drake and his wife, Marilyn, are a delightful couple and one might even suspect that in years to come when the gifted and affable Dr. Drake senses that God is calling him to step away from fulltime ministry, he may just remain in Fannin County with its sparse suburban feel, its Horseshoe Bend Park, Toccoa River Adventures, apple orchards; and it is almost certain that Marilyn will never be dismissive of the Riverwalk Shops.