Georgia Baptist Mission Board adds Jones, Ward, Youngblood to Pastor Wellness Team


SUWANEE, Ga. — The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has added three  additional staffers with some 75 years of combined experience to its Pastor Wellness Team that sees to the needs of the state’s ministry leaders.

Jason Jones, with 21 years of experience as a pastor, is serving in southwest Georgia. Craig Ward, who has been in ministry more than three decades, is serving in northwest Georgia. And Marty Youngblood, who has served as a church conflict consultant, college professor and former pastor over the past 25 years, is serving in southeast Georgia.

They began in the new roles on Wednesday.

“The mission of Georgia Baptist Pastor Wellness is to advance the gospel by serving our pastors, ministry leaders and spouses,” said Chris Reynolds, the lead strategist who oversees the team. “By investing in them spiritually, physically, vocationally, financially, and relationally, we can engage and encourage these leaders as they minister in their churches and communities.”

The expansion of the Pastor Wellness Team, the cost of which is covered through a grant from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, provides more concentrated representation in every region of the state.

“Each of these men is uniquely qualified through calling, education and experience to effectively serve our pastors and churches,” Reynolds said. “Our existing team will continue to serve with updated assignments.”

Reynolds will continue to serve the west central region. Andy Childs, also a former pastor, will continue to serve the northeast. And Jeff Gongwer will continue to serve the east central region.

“The addition of these men, along with the recent of addition of our ‘ministry wives mobilizers,’ gives us the ability to better serve our pastors and ministry families,” Reynolds said.

Jones, a lifelong resident of Worth County, said he was called to ministry when he was 15.

“I resisted the call for quite some time, but at the age of 24, I surrendered into the ministry and was licensed and ordained by Pine Forest Baptist Church,” he said. “I have had the wonderful privilege of serving as pastor for 21 years.  I was a bi-vocational pastor at Sumner Baptist Church for 5 years, and most recently, I have been the full-time pastor of Isabella Baptist Church in Sylvester for 16 years.”

For the past 11 years, Jones has been chaplain for the Worth County High School football team.

Jones and his wife, Laney, have two sons, Marshall, 14, and Madden, 8.

Ward began sensing a call to ministry when he was 16 and announced that call publicly when he was 18. His started with a five-year stint as part-time and full-time student minister, followed by 29 years as a full-time senior pastor. That includes five years at First Baptist Church of Strawberry Plains, Tenn., 13 years at Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Newport, Tenn., and the past 10 years at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Clarkesville, Ga.

“While each church brought different challenges, the many victories, special experiences, and wonderful people have brought insurmountable joy teaching me to cling to what Jesus clearly said, ‘Love God with everything, and love others,’” he said. “If I can do that, both life and ministry will be a success.”

Ward and his wife, Ann, have four children, Hannah who is married to Aaron Brooks, Julianna who is engaged to be married to Austin Weyrich, Micah who is married to Sydney Brookshire, and Noah who is actively serving in the U.S. Army.

Youngblood has been serving churches through the Mission Board since 1997, initially on what was known as the Church Minister Relations Team before transitioning into the role of conflict management consultant. Before joining the Mission Board, he served as a pastor, campus minister, and adjunct professor at Charleston Southern University.

“The greatest joy I’ve had serving Georgia Baptists these 25 years has been to see how far-reaching our ministry has been in terms of sharing the gospel and in encouraging and strengthening our pastors and churches,” Youngblood said. “It overwhelms me.”

Youngblood has led collegiate mission teams to more than 15 countries and 35 states.

Youngblood and his wife, Daphne, have one son, Chris, a former U.S. Army Ranger.

In September, Reynolds announced that the Mission Board had added three “mobilizers” to serve on the Pastor Wellness Team to enhance services to ministry wives.

The Mission Board has a long history of caring for ministry wives, knowing the importance of their roles and the stresses they often face.

Jennifer Williams, a Valdosta resident, is serving in south Georgia. Suzette Greene, a Douglasville resident, is serving in central Georgia. And Lauren Walker, a Cartersville resident, is serving in north Georgia.

“I am thrilled that God has called these men and ladies to join our Pastor Wellness Team,” Childs said.

“These men and ladies round out our team with gifted and compassionate individuals,” Gongwer said. “I am excited about their addition to our team.”