Joel Engle called to be senior pastor at Newnan’s First Baptist Church


NEWNAN, Ga. — After almost three years of prayer, deliberation and a national quest, the Pastor Search Team of Newnan’s First Baptist Church recommended Joel Engle as their new senior pastor. The congregation’s response to the recommendation was overwhelmingly positive, and Engle’s first Sunday in the pulpit was May 5. 

First Baptist members Harry and Lenna Moore, commenting on the first days of Engle’s ministry, spontaneously and simultaneously echoed, “We love him already!”

Engle is a multi-talented individual whose testimony is riveting as evidenced when he spoke to Liberty University’s Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students. Fifteen thousand students responded to his message with cheers, laughter, and reverential silence as he told his life story. 

In his testimony, Engle shares that he never saw even a photo of his father and that his mother died when he was 11 years old. Consequently, he found himself in the care of his aging grandparents. Through many trials and transitions, he came into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and his life changed forever. 

As a teenager, Engle traveled to churches and venues far and wide to share his testimony through preaching and music. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University, where he studied music, church history, and theology on a scholarship.

While at OBU he established Joel Engle Ministries and upon graduation he launched out into a path of communicating the Gospel as an evangelist and a musician, touching the lives of millions of people through his albums, concerts, radio, and television.

In those early years, Engle became not only a talented singer but a songwriter who performed and recorded contemporary Christian music prior to becoming a pastor. He had a number one song on the CCM charts and several others in the top ten. He has shared the stage with Christian artists such as Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, and Third Day.

Despite his success as a Christian concert artist, in 2007, Engle felt the call to transition to the pastorate. He served as lead pastor at churches in Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas. During all his years of service, his congregations experienced growth - both in membership and salvations. A former colleague said Engle “increased the Gospel fluency” among his congregation. 

On Sunday, April 28, Engle preached his introductory or “trial” sermon at the Newnan church, and he was joyously affirmed as their next senior pastor. Standing with his wife, Valerie, and two of their children, Elaine and Ethan, Engle accepted the call. 

Engle explains it is a “privilege it is to become the new senior pastor at First Baptist Church. There is a great cloud of witnesses who have been faithful to God since First Baptist was started in 1828! 

The church’s passion for the surrounding community is encouraging to Engle. “There is a great passion in this church,” he says, “to bring the love and good news of Jesus to every man, woman, and child in this city, county, and every part of the world."  

Russell Vineyard, chairman of the Pastor Search Committee, says the team was impressed by Engle’s “authenticity and willingness to share openly about challenges and struggles he has experienced as a testimony to God’s grace and redemption in his life.” 

Another member of the committee, Beth Barnett, describes Engle as  a gifted communicator who loves people and is passionate about sharing the Gospel. He has a great sense of humor that he employs in his sermons to connect with his listeners.” 

Greg Travis, chairman of Deacons, is excited about Engle’s ministry at Newnan. “Joel has foresight for ministry opportunities and the ability, through his preaching, teaching, and leadership development, to motivate believers to advance the Kingdom of God!” 

Engle and Valerie have been married for 29 years. Their two oldest daughters, Elizabeth and Evelyn, are college students in Colorado, and their youngest children, Elaine and Ethan, are high school students. 

Engle is the 25th pastor in the 196-year history of First Baptist Church Newnan.