Jimmy Blanton to retire as Columbus Baptist Association missionary


COLUMBUS, Ga. – In January, Jimmy Blanton announced his retirement as the missionary of the Columbus Baptist Association by saying, “I realize that the association does not need a new mission, but it does need a new voice, a new vision, and a new missionary.”

The people in Muscogee County and the surrounding area would consider Jimmy Blanton the dean of Baptist Associational Missionaries and the prototype for all ministers everywhere. He is a man with a servant’s heart, an irreproachable character, a missionary zeal, and a Christlike spirit. By the time he completes his service with the CBA he will have served in that position for almost three decades.

Jimmy Blanton was selected as “Associational Missionary of the Year” in 1998. His peers saw leadership, compassion, and a wholeheartedness toward the Lord in his life.

Blanton’s leadership has been a blessing to tens of thousands of people in the Columbus area in a myriad of ways. He led the association to be involved in Disaster Relief Ministries. The association has a mobile Shower and Recovery Center with a hot water supply. This trailer is also equipped with four shower stalls, and a washer and dryer. This traveling mercy unit is put to good use when natural disasters like tornados, floods, fires, and hurricanes descend with great fury, and it provides a place for workers to clean up at the end of a day’s work. When in Columbus, the facility serves as a refuge for the homeless.

The Columbus Baptist Association also has a block party trailer equipped with an inflatable bounce house, outdoor games, and much more. The unit is available for churches that wish to use it for city-wide block parties where back-to-school bookbags are given away. The CBA has been doing this for over the last 25 years. It is also used for Vacation Bible Schools and other outdoor activities.

The Baptists of Columbus also have an assembly room with a kitchen for community usage. This room also serves as the weekly meeting place for two mission churches. The Hillcrest Ministry Resource Center provides food, clothing and limited assistance for rent, lodging and utilities. In January, 28 people visiting the Resource Center made professions of faith, which is the heartbeat of the ministry. Blanton also noted that each year on the CBA campus there is a Christmas Toy Shop where over 600 children receive presents and 42 parents accepted Christ this past December.

Blanton and his team led in the development of a medical clinic with a full-time doctor and later released the ministry to MercyMed of Columbus where everyone who walks through the doors is treated with respect, love, and honor whether they have insurance or not.

The Association, under Blanton’s leadership, has connected women with unwanted pregnancies with the Sound Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center; and provides housing for sex offenders. This program has been so effective in rehabilitating and redeeming sex offenders that the state of Georgia wanted to know how the Association had been able to develop a program that eliminated repeated offenders. Blanton replied, “The simple answer is ‘Jesus.’”

Blanton led the churches of the Association to send volunteer missionaries to serve in places like Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Much attention was given to the people in the Mississippi coastal area after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The needs in Georgia have not been neglected during Blanton’s years of service. One of the areas the Columbus Association helped greatly was in Habersham County where Tony Gray serves as Associational Missionary.

The Baptist Churches in Columbus have looked to Blanton to supply preachers, coach pastors, train deacons and search committees, help pastors and churches cast a vision and strategize to reach their community for Christ.

Billy Duncan, former pastor of Beallwood Baptist Church in Columbus, has known Blanton since 1971 and commented, “From the beginning of our journey together Jimmy has always been in love with Jesus and passionate about the Kingdom of God. He has modeled servanthood as an Associational Missionary in every way and has been one of the finest if not the best associational missionary I have ever met or partnered with in ministry.”

Blanton was actively involved in developing healthy churches and used the book, Healthy Kingdom Churches, authored by Dr. J. Robert White, the former executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board

Dr. White remarked, “Jimmy Blanton has proven himself to be one of the finest missionaries I have ever known. His heart has been in missions, and he has communicated that to the Columbus Baptist Association through his splendid leadership. One outstanding expression of mission ministry has been the clinic they developed to meet the physical needs of people in their community. The clinic also presented the opportunity to minister to their spiritual needs by sharing Jesus and leading many to know Him as Savior.

“Jimmy served faithfully as a member of the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee”, exclaimed Dr. White. “During that time, I was so pleased when he accepted the opportunity to be on the Administration Committee. His counsel was always on point and his wisdom was a great asset to both the Executive Committee and the Administration Committee.

“No doubt my dear friend, Jimmy, will be missed at the helm of the Columbus Baptist Association, but his vision and missionary heart will continue to bear influence upon this amazing association of churches.”

Jerry Speer, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Columbus for the past 42 years, testified, “Words cannot express what Jimmy Blanton means to me and our association. He was the first person I ever met who was convinced that his life’s call was to associational missions. That calling has proven to be a true blessing in my life and in our church as well as well as other churches in our association and beyond.

“Jimmy blended the churches of Columbus into a network that ministers with the purpose of meeting needs and saving souls. Through his vision we regularly see over 80-100 souls a year come to Jesus through the association’s office and ministry center. Because of Jimmy’s ministry, lives have been transformed, churches have rallied and preachers along with staff members have found a friend that comforts, consoles, and challenges our lives. We pray that Jimmy will be blessed in his retirement, and we know he will continue to be a blessing, for he has answered his call.”

Dr. Tony Dickerson, who has served Pinehurst Baptist Church in Columbus for more than 50 years as pastor and who cherishes Jimmy Blanton as a precious friend, stated, “He is a man with an impeccable, unimpeachable character. He is an extraordinary leader, an avid student of the Bible who can impart spiritual truth with understanding and fervor, and he is as dear to my heart as any man I know.”

The announcement of Blanton’s retirement indicated that he would conclude his work as Associational Missionary on December 31, 2024, or until a new man is called by our Lord to serve as the new associational missionary. "This decision is not about me nor my health, but it is about God’s will and what is best for our association.”

The man who succeeds Jimmy Blanton will have some mighty shoulders to stand on, but will have some difficult shoes to fill.