Longtime Thomas County teacher and pastor's wife Merle Walley Courtney, of Thomasville, died Dec. 5. She was 92.
A Mississippi native, Courtney graduated from Mississippi College and served as assistant editor of the Baptist Record in 1948 before marrying Reverend Rutledge E. Courtney. In 1955, she and her husband moved to Thomas County, where they served together at Meigs Baptist Church (1955-61), Dawson Street Baptist Church (1961-82), and Salem Baptist Church (1982-89). During that time Mrs. Courtney also served as a teacher in the Thomas County School System for 21 years. In their retirement years before her husband's death, the couple ministered at various churches on an interim basis.
Survivors include a daughter, Becky Rainey, of Albany; sons John and Mark, both of Thomasville; six grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. Memorial donations can be made to the Georgia Baptist Children's Home at P.O. Box 329, Palmetto, GA 30268.
Bill Eckles announced his retirement Dec. 31 as pastor of Grove First Baptist Church due to health issues.
Cottondale Baptist Church in Eastman recently welcomed Chad Hendley as pastor.
Hendley, who grew up in Lakeland, received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech before pursuing and earning a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously, he served three years as student pastor at Journey Church in Tifton as well as a three-year pastoral internship at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, AL. His wife Megan and sons Phinehas, Hudson, and Boyce join him at Cottondale.
Hendley began his ministry at Cottondale on Dec. 11.
Harp's Crossing Baptist Church Hollonville, in Williamson, held revival services Nov. 12 with evangelist Keith Fordham. Attendees witnessed seven transfers of letter and one candidate for baptism. Chris Watson is pastor.
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