B.S. Economics 1977
Senior Pastor of Zebulon Baptist Church, Zebulon, North Carolina
I attended Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest after graduation, earning the Master of Divinity degree in three years and then working on a second master’s in theology focused on Christian ethics. During that time I became the youth minister at Zebulon Baptist Church, a congregation affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. I was called to be the senior pastor in 1981. I have had the rare privilege of serving my congregation for 37 years on staff and 33 years as senior pastor. My work involves preaching, worship leadership, teaching, counseling, hospital visitation, weddings, funerals, staff leadership, administrative leadership, and representing the church in the community, denominational life, and the broader Christian community.
My wife, Barbara, serves with me on staff as our minister of music and senior adults, a position she has held for 25 years. I have been honored to serve in elected leadership roles among Baptists as vice president of the North Carolina Baptist Convention, as moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, and as moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, our national religious body headquartered in Decatur, Georgia.
Building Community through Ministry
During our time in Zebulon we have been blessed to grow, to acquire property, and expand our church campus. Building a new sanctuary in 1993 was a challenging project that brought our people together. We built a beautiful colonial worship space, something rare for the 1990s. Since that project our congregation has become a more welcoming and open to the community — and today the congregation is respected for its commitment to local missions and ministry.
Our church is engaged in thrift store ministry that supports counseling for victims of domestic violence, a medical clinic, the Boy and Girls Club, senior adult ministries, partnerships with local schools, and an education foundation that helps parents as educators to get their children ready for school. It seems that the building project instilled a confidence that we could truly make a large difference in our community.
Leveraging an Economics Background
While serving on the Zebulon Economic Development Team, I was involved with a conversation related to bringing a minor league baseball team to Zebulon. With the economics degree and some time spent working for the Atlanta Braves in the PR department in late high school and early college days, I ended up very engaged in the project. Eventually we connected the team owner with landowners and a deal was struck and Five County Stadium was built, the home of the Carolina Mudcats. I am the son of a coach and have always loved sports. My son teaches math and coaches football and tennis at the local high school, and I enjoy following those teams in my free time.
I believe that my education at Georgia Tech gave me the critical thinking skills and excellent work ethic necessary for succeeding in my vocation as a minister. While ministers are all trained in theology and the Bible, few have studied courses that I studied while earning the degree in economics.
This has served me well in leading my church and is a very important factor in why I have had the opportunity to lead state and national religious organizations and serve on several non-profit boards.
“My education at Georgia Tech has served me well in leading my church and is an important factor in the opportunity to lead state and national religious organizations and serve on non-profit boards.”
I have served the local alumni chapter in years past in several capacities. My brother is a Tech grad, and I stay very close to my best friend from days at Tech. I will admit there are not a lot of Tech alumni in the ministry. My wife and I love musical theater and have season tickets that we enjoy. We travel to Atlanta for football, basketball, and baseball games and love the shopping, food, and cultural opportunities when we visit Atlanta.
Advice for Current and Future Students
Work hard and see the value in your hard work. I truly believe that it was the development of the strong work ethic that made my education at Georgia Tech quite valuable. I remember my first semester at seminary. Enrollment was up and some first-year students had been pulled out of overcrowded classes to form a class in Church History that would be more advanced. Though I had not previously taken the related course, I was placed in the class. I told the registrar it must be a mistake, that I was not a religion major and had no background in Church History. He asked me my name, thought for a few seconds, and then said, “You are the one from Georgia Tech. We don’t get too many from Georgia Tech, but when we do, they are always at the top of their class in seminary. You’ll do fine.”
I remember that day fondly, for it speaks volumes about the high regard others have for Georgia Tech and its graduates and also that as graduates we have a lot to live up to as Tech alums.