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A Church Profile for Prospective Senior Ministers

TABLE OF CONTENTS Our Vision Statement Letter from the Search Committee Pastor Profile Our Identity Who We Are Open to Love Our Sunday Worship Our Favorite Moments Open to Serve Our Mission Work

Open to Explore Our Ministries Our Church Staff Our Facts and Figures Open for You Our Structure Our Remembrances Our History Our Location

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH VISION STATEMENT First Baptist Church is a thriving community in Christ where we all participate in worship and are transformed by mission.

HOW OUR VISION STATEMENT CAME TO BE In the Fall of 2012, our church began a series of sermons entitled “Journey Through Acts� to prepare us to discern what God would have us do as a congregation. Beginning in January of 2013 and running through the summer, we embarked on a visioning process which engaged the entire congregation in a conversation about what we were hearing God say to us about our congregation and our facilities. This resulted in a restructuring of our Church staff, engagement in a number of mission activities and a renovated facility better suited to doing our work. Our vision statement reflects the core values we identified in this process. Five years later, in the Next Step process, we reviewed our progress in meeting the goals established in 2013 and updated and amended those goals. Programs and ministries of our visioning process include these: hosting Our Daily Bread, developing school partnerships/Barrow Buddies, providing for Choral Scholars and other internships, renovating the sanctuary and other facilities, opening the church to use by local non-profits including GED classes and developing a stronger relationship with Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, a predominantly African American Baptist Church.

LETTER FROM THE SENIOR MINISTER SEARCH COMMITTEE On Sunday, February 3, 2019, Dr. Paul Baxley announced his resignation after having served almost nine years as the Senior Minister at First Baptist Church (FBC), Athens, Georgia. Dr. Baxley accepted God’s call to be the Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. In March, the church called Dr. Joel Snider to be the Interim Minister providing leadership for the congregation and the church staff. At the same time, the congregation elected members to serve on the Senior Minister Search Committee. That committee began its work on April 7, 2019. The effort, comprised partly of meeting each Monday evening, has included organization, information gathering, interviews, expert dialogue, a “listening lunch” with the congregation and much prayer. The information gained from these sources was used to develop the Church Profile and Pastor Profile. We are grateful to our congregation and staff for the time and effort they have spent in the production of this church profile. We are also grateful for the prayers of support, confirmation and guidance for the work we have in front of us. The future at FBC is strong and the possibilities are exciting. As a committee, we look forward to meeting the person God is calling to lead us. We continue to covenant together to uphold one another in prayer and encouragement as we trust in God’s timing and God’s selection for the one who will journey with us into a future of promise and hope. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our beloved church and the community in which each one of us is nurtured in faith. We hope you will join us on the journey, listening to God’s voice at this important time in the history of First Baptist Church. In Christ, Mary Conley, Secretary Craig Ellis Leslie Gordon

Cindy Haygood, Chair Al Henderson Anna Randa

Alan Reddish, Vice-Chair Mark Sanders Jimmy Thomason

PASTOR PROFILE First Baptist Church, Athens seeks a senior minister who is called and committed to the open and energetic service of God. After much prayer, professional insight, and congregational conversation, we are led by the Holy Spirit to seek a pastor who will serve with us in the following areas of ministry:


Model Christ by upholding our core values of being open to love, open to serve, open to explore and open for you Focus on membership growth by promoting what our church has to offer as moderate Baptists Maintain and cultivate educational programming that will foster spiritual growth and encourage visitors Capitalize on the opportunities and challenges that come with being a downtown church Sustain and develop relationships with community partners, including two in-house non-profit organizations Continue leadership in ecumenical / interfaith activities


Display servant leadership, with compassion for a congregation of all ages and perspectives Develop personal connection with the congregation, not simply global perspective of the church Be secure and steadfast, with sound Spirit-led guidance Possess a passion for counseling, visitation, and family support as needed, being present in both joy and sorrow Continue the trust and transparency in working relationships with the deacons and other lay leaders


Guide corporate worship that is engaging and relevant for members as well as the unchurched Collaborate with ministerial staff in order to empower, equip, and encourage their roles in the spiritual formation of our church Connect from the pulpit, with a message of depth that is challenging yet relatable Address difficult passages of Scripture and issues of social justice with intention, integrity, and sensitivity Hold progressive posture with regard to open communion, transfer of membership without re-baptism, and ordination of women


Having a passion for the church, engaging members through the love of Christ Appreciation of our church history, building upon our rich heritage as we approach a bi-centennial milestone Enthusiasm for our current vision and as well as continued progress in years to come Discernment in knowing what to keep, what to cease, and what to begin Energized by interactions with our congregation and community Skilled as a communicator and an empathic listener Experienced in leadership roles, with youthful mindedness and humor that engages a multi-generational church Affirming of the theological and political diversity of our congregation Possessing strong academic credentials with a demonstrated commitment to continued theological education Committed to intellectual curiosity and theological integrity which recognizes the relationship between faith journey and life-long learning The ability to lead a large staff as well as deacons and other lay leaders, accepting overall responsibility for our church Displaying financial acumen and strong organizational skills

The Reach Out Team, comprised of some ministerial staff and several lay leaders was formed in March of 2017. This group was charged with guiding an internal reflection of the congregation to coincide with the external reconstruction of the church facilities. The leading question was, “Who are we at FBC Athens?” If we don’t know, how can we tell others and invite them in? In order to discern this answer, the team surveyed three distinct groups: new members, who had joined in the past three years with fresh perspective; deacons, who contributed longevity and insight; and community affiliates, who did not attend FBC Athens, yet had a relationship with our church, in order to provide outward perception. All surveys closed with the key question: “What three words would you use to best describe our church?” The results portrayed distinct themes across all three groups. The word “open” resounded, and four areas of emphasis were identified:

Loving God and loving our neighbor

Pursuing mission opportunities within these walls, within our community, and within the world

Learning what it means to be a disciple of Christ

Opening our doors

These words on paper were visualized with an important architectural feature of our church: the stained-glass window as a center-piece of our sanctuary, full of light and color, welcoming all who enter. This is who we are at FBC Athens! We are open for you!


Worship at FBC Athens is rooted in a strong Baptist heritage and identity and follows the calendar and seasons of the Christian church year. We emphasize Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. Our worship respects individual priesthood, as we are a self-reflective people, open to God’s continuing revelation. These are some words that members have used to describe our worship: open, welcoming, well planned and thoughtful. Worship is planned, intentional, and intergenerational, approaching liturgical and traditional practices with creativity and purpose. Worship allows expressing our love for God with one another in a community of faith. Children, youth, and adults lead and participate in our worship through singing, playing instruments, sharing testimonies, reading scripture, and offering prayers. Using the lectionary cycle as a guide for worship, we also set aside periods for planned series which nurture and grow our congregational life together. Our worship service is broadcast via radio stations AM 1340/FM 98.7 and live stream transmission over the internet. Communion is shared approximately every other month. We additionally schedule communion in special seasons such as Christmas Eve and Maundy Thursday. Music is an integral part of our worship experience. Congregational hymns, generally from the Celebrating Grace Hymnal, are accompanied by organ and piano. The Sanctuary Choir leads in worship each week, along with children’s and youth choirs. Additionally, we are blessed with many talented musicians in our congregation who share their gifts in worship leadership. Handbells, brass, strings, and other instruments are integrated into our


SANCTUARY CHOIR The Sanctuary Choir provides leadership for the worship services at FBC Athens and is open to adults who have an interest and prior experience in choral singing. YOUTH CHOIR The Youth Choir is for students in grades seven through twelve. This choir meets every Sunday afternoon from September to May and sings in worship once a month. HANDBELL CHOIR Our Adult Handbell Choir meets each Sunday evening from September to May. They ring a three-octave set of Malmark Handbells and play in worship once a month during their ringing season. CHILDREN’S CHOIRS Choirs for ages 3 – 11 rehearse on Wednesday nights and are led by volunteer members who are professional music educators. These choirs perform during Sunday morning worship around Advent, Christmas, Palm Sunday and Children’s Sunday. CHORAL SCHOLARS The Choral Scholars Ministry offers three scholarship positions to UGA students for the academic year. SPECIAL MUSICAL SERVICES AND CONCERTS FBC Athens has a long history of concert and special musical events planned for the congregation and our larger community. Some of these events feature our children in a musical production and many of these

highlighting our Sanctuary Choir have been collaborations with churches in our community. Concerts listed here are just some of these musical presentations: • Seven Last Words by Michael John Trotta • Magnificat by Mark Hayes • Gloria In Excelsis Deo by Dan Forrest • Come Away to the Skies: A High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass by Wes Ramsay and Tim Sharp INSTRUMENTS The Woodruff Memorial Organ was built in 1976 by M.P. Moller, Opus 11166. The organ was given by Robert Woodruff in memory of his wife Nell Hodgson Woodruff who grew up in First Baptist Church. It has 61 ranks and four manuals with an antiphonal division. The organ was renovated in 2013-2014 and again with the recent renovation of the sanctuary in 2018-2019. The organ and the piano are the primary instruments used during worship. PIANO The seven-foot Yamaha grand piano is used to accompany hymns, anthems, solos, and as a solo instrument for worship. HYMNAL Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship, 2010 is used for congregational singing.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE MOMENTS ADVENT AND LENTEN DEVOTIONALS Each year FBC Athens puts together Advent and Lenten devotionals with each day’s devotion written by a different member. These devotions are published in print form and also sent out by email daily. The devotions have different topics each year and provide a great way for members to learn more about each other. CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT COMMUNION This night includes beautiful music, carols, scripture, communion, and candles. This beautiful service is the highlight of Christmas for many at FBC Athens.

CHILDREN’S CHOIRS AND MISSION KID’S RECOGNITION FBC Athens recognizes all the children involved in the Children’s Choirs and Mission Kid’s programs at the last Wednesday night supper of the school year. Before the recognition members of all ages enjoy ice cream sundaes and fellowship.

RINGING THE BELL Each year members from FBC Athens ring the Salvation Army Bell for a week at the Epps Bridge Walmart. For FLOWERS ON THE CROSS many members, this activity allows them to really get On Easter morning FBC into the Christmas Spirit. Athens places a large wooden cross on the front steps of the church. Members bring and place flowers on the cross that proclaims the good news of Easter to the Athens Community.

GENERATIONS OF LOVE This intergenerational event, formerly known as the Valentine’s Banquet, is a night of dinner, fun, and fellowship where members are hosted and served by the deacons.

DOWNTOWN INVOLVEMENT Members of FBC Athens enjoy being part of the downtown community. Downtown involvement ranges from volunteering with AthFest music and art festival and hosting a cheer section for the AthHalf Marathon, to groups enjoying fellowship with each other eating at downtown restaurants.

OUR MISSION WORK OUR DAILY BREAD FBC Athens houses Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen where over 200 breakfast and lunch meals are served each weekday to those in need. On the second Thursday of each month a group from FBC Athens cooks and serves lunch to the guests. We also provide hospitality volunteers daily at breakfast and lunch.


Family Promise is a coalition of Athens Area Churches and Congregations of Faith, referred to as Host Congregations or Support Congregations, which may provide shelter, meals, and support for homeless families in crisis for up to 90 days. With support from the congregation of Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, FBC Athens serves as a host congregation providing shelter, meals, and support for Family Promise guests several weeks each year. In addition, the FPA office and day center are housed in our facility.

SLOVAKIA FBC Athens has an ongoing relationship with CBF Field Personnel in Slovakia who serve Roma people of Vazec, Slovakia. FBC Athens assisted financially in The Samuel Project which is a community center that offers pre-K programing for Roma students, educational training opportunities for Roma, and Christian spiritual community for the Roma of Vazec. Over the years, over one hundred FBC Athens members have served on mission trips in Vazec, Slovakia.

ATHENS AREA EMERGENCY FOOD BANK FBC Athens provides volunteers on the second and fourth Tuesdays and Wednesdays each month to assist in packing food, counting donations, and restocking shelves as well as collecting donations from the congregation.


In order to promote literacy in Athens, FBC Athens formed a partnership with Barrow Elementary School. Each week twelve volunteers read with and do a reading related activity with a first grader.


Each year FBC Athens provides volunteers to ring the Salvation Army Bell for a week at the Epps Bridge Walmart and members select families through the Angel Tree Program to provide Christmas gifts to children in need.


Since 2012, FBC Athens has hosted GED classes and provided volunteers. The classes are open to anyone and meet twice weekly. Numerous people have benefited from skills obtained through this ministry.


Almost one million children in Georgia schools are eligible to receive free or reducedpriced breakfast and lunch. This program is designed to provide nutritious meals to children in our community when these meals disappear during the summer and other school breaks. FBC Athens helps prepare and distribute meals during school breaks.


Camp Hawkins, located in Mt. Airy, is run by the Georgia Baptist Children's Home and Family Ministries and offers a five-day camp for children ages 8 - 21 with special needs. Each year FBC Athens sends a team to provide all the meals, crafts, games, Bible study, and take care of all the laundry for the campers for a week.


FBC Athens provides monetary support and volunteers for this non-profit that provides free evaluation, treatment, and education for acute and chronic medical and dental conditions to uninsured residents of Athens and surrounding communities.


FBC Athens provides monetary support and volunteers to the Christian based organization that provides free medical, dental, pharmacy, and health education to low income uninsured people in Athens and surrounding counties.

THE VIRGINIA APPLETON CIRCLE is open to all women at FBC Athens and meets monthly. Named after

Virginia Bell Appleton who served as a role model for involvement in local missions, the group takes on a number of causes. Some of the projects include making hygiene kits for the Nurses Clinic, making and delivering Easter goodie bags for residents of senior living community, Denny Towers, and gathering items needed for Camp Hawkins.

THE FARRALL-HYNDS CIRCLE has a long history of women’s work in missions through FBC Athens and

meets monthly for presentations about local and international mission opportunities, usually given by someone involved directly in the work. The Circle also volunteers at the Emergency Food Bank, provides scholarship money to a child in Honduras and supports the missionaries in Slovakia and the work of a nurse in Niger.


Bible Study takes place each Sunday morning from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. There are 10 Sunday School Classes for adults along with graded classes for preschoolers, children, youth and college students. Adult classes select from a variety of curriculum resources including printed materials from Smyth & Helwys, Nurturing Faith, short study series and books for discussions.

WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY Each Wednesday evening of the academic year, there are concurrent Bible and book studies. Additional six week Bible studies are offered for women. YOUNG ADULT GROUP A Young Adult Small Group meets on Tuesday evenings throughout the year. During the academic year the group engages in book and Bible studies. Summer gatherings include a variety of activities from local trivia, bowling, and eating at one of our local hot spots.


This men’s group meets every other month for book discussion. Participants select the book (or movie) and facilitate the discussion. Some of the titles they have discussed are The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis; Jesus: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Awesome? by Tripp Fuller; and Origin by Dan Brown.

PRAYER GROUPS The men's Prayer Breakfast meets at 7:30 a.m. once a month at a local restaurant and is open to all. The participants take turns leading the prayer and devotional.


The Seekers is the fellowship group for members who are aged 50 and over. Because they love to travel and enjoy fellowship, the Seekers’ outings include ice cream socials, traveling to see theater productions and lake days at member's homes.

LADIES DINNER & DESSERT SUMMERTIME SMALL GROUPS Women in the congregation meet for dinner at a These gatherings are held in members' homes and restaurant near the church followed by dessert at a located in different parts of the Athens area. The summer member’s home. The group plans retreats and other 2019 study was based on Amy-Jill Levine’s book, Short events each year. Stories by Jesus. The summer 2018 study included topics of environmental justice, racial reconciliation, and ethnic #MOMS justice. These gatherings provide time for fellowship Moms of young children and moms of grown & flown and dessert, along with member-led discussion. children meet periodically for social times and book study. This group is open to all women of the church.


The noontime study is a repeat of the Wednesday night study and provides an alternative time for members who are not able to come on Wednesday evenings.


Since 2017, FBC Athens has joined with Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, a predominantly African American congregation, for a monthly Bible Study and time of fellowship. Twice per year, the two congregations share worship and a fellowship meal.

YOUTH Love: Our youth group consists of students in 7-12 grade

from three separate counties — Clarke, Oconee, and Jackson. We strive to show our youth how much they are loved by God and by our community of faith at FBC Athens. The annual Fall Retreat, Passport and other group trips help us fall more in love with God and bring us closer together. We support one another in successes and shortcomings, representing the all-encompassing love of God. Our youth regularly say things like, “When I’m here, I feel like I can be the real me.” We believe the transcending love of God in community allows students to be their true selves.

Follow: We strive to follow Christ together, placing a high value on the

unique call of Christ in all our lives. One of the biggest challenges for youth is discerning God’s voice amidst the pressures of school, sports, college applications, jobs, and other commitments. On Sundays and during midweek gatherings we examine scripture, ask questions and learn how to apply the teachings of Christ to daily living. We want to teach our youth to actively listen and recognize the voice of God. Following Christ together, we encourage one another towards an active and ever-growing faith, preparing our students for a lifetime of discipleship.

Serve: Our youth put faith to action by serving our community right here in Athens and participating in annual

mission trips. Most recently, we have served in Houston, TX, and Marianna, FL, with CBF hurricane disaster relief efforts. Every three years our high-school students travel to Slovakia, joining our CBF partners, Shane and Dianne McNary. These opportunities for service are highlights, for we know that in serving others we become more formed to the likeness of Christ. In serving others, we hope to instill in our youth a deep care for all people and our world.


Our college ministry is open to all college students in the greater Athens area. Though the bulk of our students attend UGA just a few blocks away, we have students from Athens Technical College as well as the University of North Georgia - Watkinsville campus. We meet regularly for Sunday lunches in downtown Athens, other fun outings like game nights at Rook and Pawn and annual retreats. These gatherings provide opportunity to break away from the stress and chaos of college life. We invite college students to engage in the larger life of our congregation, allowing them to survey what church membership looks and feels like as an adult. In addition to participation in weekly worship, college students serve on committees, teach children’s choir, participate in church-wide Bible studies, sing in the adult choir and serve as interns in our different ministry areas. We encourage college students to plug-in and explore their sense of Christian identity within our larger church framework.


Mission Statement: We seek to invite children to experience the joy of a “Great Adventure” with God! We engage children in discovering God and empower parents to guide their children in their discovery. At FBC Athens we believe • that children learn about having a relationship with God by being involved in relationships with people who have a relationship with God. As we live lives that are being transformed before our children, they experience the power and presence of God. We provide consistent leaders who connect with our children on a regular basis and guide them in their discovery of God. • children learn and retain the most through experience. We desire to give children an adventure in learning that will impact them for eternity. We provide an experience that is developmentally appropriate, one that involves and engages them in the learning process. We use the Workshop Rotation Model in our Sunday morning adventure which enables us to teach in all the ways in which God created us to learn. • in partnering with parents as they discover God with their children. We desire to provide resources for spiritual development and tools for parents that will help them have spiritual conversations with their children. We believe it is important to provide family activities and intergenerational opportunities for parents and children to grow in their discovery of God.

SUNDAY MORNING ADVENTURE SUNDAY SCHOOL HOUR Children infant through three years old enjoy learning from “Deep Blue Nursery” curriculum. This curriculum is developmentally appropriate for little ones, who are taught and cared for by loving, consistent teachers.

WORSHIP HOUR Our church mission states that we are a thriving community in Christ where we all participate in worship and are transformed by mission. We are intentional about including regular opportunities for our children to participate and lead in worship. Our Children Pre-Kindergarten through fourth grade children’s choirs sing in worship throughout the year. At discover God through the Workshop Rotation Model. other times our children lead us through Scripture This educational model is based on the work of Howard reading or prayer. Babies through age three stay in their Gardner, known as Multiple Intelligences. Rotational Sunday School class during the worship hour, and their learning is based on how children were created to learn lesson is extended to include the worship hour. Children and is exciting for both students and teachers. Children in Pre-Kindergarten through the sixth grade worship learn through games, cooking, art activities and film. with their parents. Children are encouraged to pick up a The variety and repetition helps reinforce the Bible story worship bag filled with a variety of activities to help or Bible concept. them better experience the worship service. About fifteen minutes into the service, children in PreChildren in the fifth and sixth grades discover God Kindergarten through second grade are dismissed to go through our “Submerge” curriculum. They dive deep to children’s church, where they experience the into God’s Word in all the ways that are appropriate for morning’s Scripture lesson from the Spark Bible and preteens. participate in a hands-on learning activity to reinforce the lesson. Acolytes – Children in grades 2 – 6 serve as Acolytes in our church. This is another way our children have the opportunity to serve as worship participants and leaders. Acolytes bring into worship the Bible, the Word of God, and the Light, representing Christ’s presence as the light of the world.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT ADVENTURE CHILDREN’S CHOIR FBC Athens provides a graded choir program for children on Wednesday evenings for ages three through sixth grade. Our experienced and gifted choir teachers, helpers, and accompanists utilize the “Celebrating Grace” curriculum, a dynamic and effective material. In children’s choir, our children learn how to express their love for God through singing, listening, moving, and playing instruments.


VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL Each year, FBC Athens invites all children in the Athens-Clarke County area for a week of activities, music and Bible Study for children who have completed PreKindergarten through the sixth grade. It is a fun filled week of discovering God together with friends and people who love to share God’s love with the children of our community.

MISSION KIDS Mission Kids is an opportunity for children to learn about missions in our community and our world. The children hear about various missionaries, learn about different cultures and traditions, discover the work of mission in our own city and church, and learn to listen for how God is calling them to serve others in love. We use Form and Spark, the preschool and elementary mission education material published for children by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

FALL FESTIVAL Our annual Fall Festival is held late in October and is open to the community. The Fall Festival features games, trunk-or-treat and great food. The entire community is invited.

PARENT/CHILD DEDICATION Parent/Child dedication is done during the 11:00 am worship service and often takes place when a child is between four and twelve months of age. This is a time when our congregation remembers the commitment it has made to every CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS MUSICAL child and youth in our church: a Our Children’s Choirs work all fall commitment to provide to prepare for their Christmas opportunities for worship and Musical, and the work shows. They spiritual growth, a commitment to always do an amazing job, leading us celebrating each child as a precious PASSPORT KIDS CAMP to worship the newborn king. and unique gift from God, and a Each year we take children who commitment to pray for our children have completed third to sixth grade FAMILY EASTER EGG HUNT as they grow in faith. to Passport Kids Camp held at Every year on Palm Sunday we have Converse College in Spartanburg, an Easter Egg Hunt for all our FIRST GRADE BIBLES/MENTORS S.C. This is a wonderful time of children and then provide a lunch As the new school year begins in the worship, Bible study, arts and crafts, for the families. This year it was an fall, we take time in a worship outdoor activities, a recreation night, intergenerational lunch with those in service to present our new first a night market for the mission our senior Seeker ministry joining graders with a children’s Bible. It is emphasis and a variety show. It is a us. also our desire to match each child wonderful week of discovering God with a mentor who will walk with and building relationships with one the child as they grow up in our faith another. community.

OUR CHURCH CLERGY AND STAFF C. Franklin Granger (Frank), Minister of Christian Community

Frank joined our staff in 1989, coming from Trinity Baptist Church in Seneca, SC. A native of Greenville, SC, he is graduate of Furman University and has an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. Frank has written curriculum materials, taught classes at McAfee School of Theology, and received the 2019 Jack Naish Distinguished Christian Educator Award. He and his spouse Teresa, have two adult children, Ben and Adam. Teaching and learning together with others is high on my list of the joys I experience in ministry. But my favorite thing is greeting the preschoolers and young children at the door after worship. I have always believed that the church where I serve as a minister should also be a church where I would want to join as a member. FBC Athens has been and remains that kind of church for me and my family.

Janet Cleland, Minister for Children, Families and Outreach

Janet came to FBC Athens after having served as Associate Pastor for Children at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA. Before moving to Carrollton, she was a life-long resident of California where she served in a variety of ministries. Janet has been a conference leader and trainer in curriculum development, a women’s retreat speaker and a Christian Education consultant for the California Baptist State Convention. Janet has a B.A. in Child Development from California State University, Northridge and a Master of Religious Education from Golden Gate Theological Seminary. She was ordained on April 29, 2012 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA. She and her husband, Mike, have two children and two grandchildren. I love the combination of my focus in ministry at FBC Athens – children, families and outreach. It is so exciting to join our children and their families in activities that reach out into our community: everything from working together at the Food Bank or Smart Lunch, Smart Kids to having fun at the Kids Craft booth at AthFest in downtown Athens. I so enjoy discovering God together with our families.

Emily Harbin, Minister to Students and Young Adults Emily Harbin is a native of Dalton, GA, and a 2014 graduate of the University of Georgia. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science, she began serving as the Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries at Madison Baptist Church. In 2017, she began her studies at McAfee School of Theology and joined the staff of FBC Athens as Minister to College Students. She now serves as Minister to Youth, College Students and Young Adults. She plans to graduate with her Master of Divinity in May 2020. It excites me that this congregation and her ministers are willing to approach challenging conversations and 'holy experiments' together. We really are open to love, explore and serve!

Randy Brittain, Minister of Music Randy has been on staff since October, 2006, after having served churches in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. He holds a BM degree with concentrations in Music Education and Voice from Mars Hill University, an MM degree with concentrations in Church Music and Vocal Performance from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He has served on the adjunct faculties of UNC-Greensboro, Greensboro College, Campbell University and the Gardner-Webb University Divinity School. He has been a presenter for the College Music Society, American Choral Directors Association and Polyphony: Fellowship of Pastoral Musicians. Most recently Randy was a member of the editorial board for the Celebrating Grace: Hymnal for Baptist Worship, 2010. He is married to Anne who is Organist/Music Associate at FBC Athens and Adjunct Faculty at Toccoa Falls College. They have one son, Rhett. Music Ministry in the local church is the high and holy calling of my life. My father served for forty-seven years as a bivocational church musician in North Carolina, so leading the music and worship life of the church is in my DNA. And it is my great privilege to serve this loving, missional and historic Baptist Church in downtown Athens. Connie Ivester, Interim Minister of Missions Connie joined FBC Athens in 2014 after retiring as pastor of Bowersville Baptist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in history and Child and Family Development and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Connie has served thirteen churches in northeast Georgia, is a retired counselor for Advantage Behavioral Health Systems and served as adjunct faculty for Truett-McConnell College and Athens Technical College. Connie serves on the boards of Friends of Advantage, Elbert County Health Department and Elberton Housing Authority. He and his wife, Martha, live in Elberton and have two children and four grandchildren. I have loved having the opportunity to be a part of the lives of a wide variety of people who have blessed and encouraged me even as I sought to do the same for them. Coming to FBC Athens was like returning home after a long journey. I have been warmly received and been challenged to continue to grow as a Christian. Joel Snider, Interim Minister Joel Snider, Interim Minister, has served churches in Georgia and Tennessee, representing a ministry of 40 years. He is retired from fulltime pastoral ministry, having served as senior pastor for First Baptist Church of Rome, GA, for 21 years. He and Cherry, his wife, live in Rome and travel to Athens to be with our congregation. He is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation for Greater Rome and serves on the Floyd County Hospital Authority. He and Cherry have two married daughters and four grandchildren. I’ve found FBC Athens to be filled with committed Christians who are engaged in a variety of ministries that serve the people of Athens. I’m honored to serve with them as they seek their next pastor. My spiritual life is enriched by this church.

Anne Brittain, Organist/Music Associate

Anne has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, a Master of Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Bachelor of Music with Distinction degree from the Eastman School of Music. In addition to her duties as Organist/Music Associate at FBC Athens, she currently teaches voice on the faculty of Toccoa Falls College here in Georgia. She has also taught on the music faculties of North Carolina Central University, UNC-Greensboro and Mars Hill University (NC). She has served as Director of Music at churches in North Carolina and as Organist for churches in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. She is married to Randy Brittain, has one son, Rhett, and enjoys fine art painting, needlecrafts and cooking.

Alan McArthur, Pianist

Alan began his piano studies at age seven. He grew up in the FBC Athens congregation playing piano for choirs and worship services; and as a soloist which is where he developed his love of Christian music. Professionally, Alan is the Founder of Urban Sanctuary Spa here in Athens and of Found Co. in Decatur, GA, a Home Goods Retail Store. He is also one of the Founders of the Boybutante AIDS Foundation, an organization that raises money for AIDS related services in NE Georgia.

CHURCH SUPPORT STAFF Top row (l-r) Mark Channell, Facilities Manager Freddie Ealy, Custodian Cicero Hemphill, Custodian Second row (l-r) Evelyn Cutshaw, Ministry Associate Cheri Rose, Administrative Associate Sharon Jenkins, Communications Manager



The Finance Committee prepares an annual budget during the summer for the December 1 – November 30 financial fiscal year. It is taken to the Deacons in late summer or early fall for approval. Once approved, there is a ‘town meeting’ for congregational review and discussion. Once approved by the congregation, pledging occurs in October. Pledge cards and envelopes are provided to members. Pledge envelopes are returned to the church and placed on the communion table during worship as a testimony to our commitment to the ministry of the church.


Members have been challenged and committed to funding the annual budget as well as the Regenerate capital campaign for renovations. Giving to the five year capital campaign began in May of 2016. Total giving to the church increased approximately 50% annually, more than the church has ever received. The following numbers give a snapshot of the finances of the church: 2017 Budget (avg. pledge $6520) $1,373,253 Total Revenues $1,135,000 Total Expenses $1,248,000 Difference $ (113,000) 2018 Budget (avg. pledge $6805) $1,356,861 Total Revenues $1,270,000 Total Expenses $1,272,000 Difference $ (2,000) 2019 Budget (avg. pledge $7057) $1,356,821 Total Revenues thru June 30 $ 718,594 Total Expenses thru June 30 $ 719,189 Difference $ (595)

REGENERATE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN Renovation Costs: Amount Pledged Pledged/Non Pledged Contributions Remaining Debt

$5,250,000 $2,534,420 $2,248,543 $3,521,131

Retirement of debt is ahead of schedule. The loan maturity date is March 2024. The church is obligated to pay annual principal curtailments of $300,000 through this maturity. The principal curtailment has been paid for the next year ending March 2020 and partially for the following twelve months. The church is maintaining a $100,000 reserve in a designated fund to ensure adequate funds to pay interest as it accrues. Current approximate annual interest expense on the debt is $133,000. Pledged funds yet to be received total $426,348. The church entered into the current capital project with the expectation of another five-year capital campaign to begin in May 2021.


FBC Athens offers online giving options for our members and guests. The online giving links are found on our church web site, through the Church Life app or by using the QR Code on printed materials. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF ATHENS, FOUNDATION is a separate support entity formed in the 1977 by FBC Athens. The Foundation has in excess of $1,000,000 in assets under its management.


FBC Athens is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia and various mission groups in the Athens area. Our congregation has a close fellowship with the local Al-Huda Islamic congregation, Congregation Children of Israel and Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, a predominately African American congregation. FBC Athens is committed to understanding and working with neighbors of various faiths and beliefs.


FBC Athens welcomes as members any person who professes faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to be a member of our congregation. New believers are baptized by immersion. Members are welcomed by transfer of membership from any other Christian congregation regardless of denomination, respecting their method of baptism. Persons who wish to maintain ties with their home church or denomination may unite with FBC Athens under “Watchcare.” ATTENDANCE

FBC Athens has over 450 active members with a current Sunday School attendance averaging 162 and a Sunday Worship average of 212. Wednesday supper/fellowship averages 100 with approximately 150 attending Bible studies, Mission Kids, graded choir practices, and Sanctuary Choir practice.


Our campus is in downtown Athens at the corner of Hancock Avenue and 355 Pulaski Street, only a few blocks from the first location on the northern end of the University of Georgia campus. Our facilities are in excellent condition due to the completion of a $5,000,000+ renovation project in 2017 and 2018. Renovations included sanctuary improvements, technology updates, installation of state-of-the-art energy efficient heating and cooling systems, new restrooms and much more. The church is ahead of schedule in paying off the debt for this project. Many outside groups use our facilities on a regular basis, including Boy Scout Troop 22, The Athens Symphony Board, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Embroiderer’s Guild, and Action Ministries Community Bible Study. We house the offices of the Family Promise of Athens (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) and Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen of Action Ministries. Since renovation, our sanctuary has been in demand as a venue for high quality music presentations.


Deacons are elected by the congregation via secret ballot and serve a three year term. All members age 21 and older and who have been a member of FBC Athens for at least two years are eligible. Women have been elected to the Board since 1977 and many have served as Chair. There are thirty-six members of the diaconate. Qualities of a deacon: • Must be regular in attendance and supportive of FBC Athens services and activities • Must be faithful in the financial support of FBC Athens • Must be a person who strives to meet the principles and conditions of Acts 6: 3-6 and 1 Timothy 3: 8-13 Deacons are called out as servants within and outside the congregation. Some of the service responsibilities include greeting after Sunday worship, giving the stewardship prayer during worship, assisting the ministers, visiting hospitalized members, serving communion and working at the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank and the Our Daily Bread Community Kitchen. All church business goes to the deacons for guidance and review before being brought to the congregation.


Each church team or committee is assigned to one of five divisions All committee and team members serve on a three year rotation. The Board of Deacons name the chairpersons for the five divisions and all committees within the Administrative Division. The Nominating Committee ask members to serve in all other roles.


Clerk, Assistant Church Clerk, Moderator, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Sunday School Director, Director of Library Services, Scout Representative, Church Historian, VBS Director, Church Hospitality Coordinator


The Church Council is responsible for evaluating the church programs, events and all committees/teams as well as serving as a clearinghouse for dialogue on specific issues as assigned by the Chair of the Board of Deacons. Church Council Members are Chair-Elect of the Board of Deacons, Administrative Division Liaison, Missions Division Liaison, Service Division Liaison, Community Division Liaison, Ministry Division Liaison, Chair of the Board of Deacons (ex-officio), Ministerial Staff and ad hoc participants, when needed.


The Trustees manage the First Baptist Church of Athens Foundation.

OUR REMEMBRANCES A BEACON OF LIGHT — BY: PATSY HOGAN I was accustomed to arriving early at work, hoping for an hour of quiet before the telephone began to ring. The church was just beginning the Season of Advent which called for much preparation and, as one of the secretaries, I already felt overwhelmed. The clock in my car registered just before 7:00 a.m., and it was still dark and foggy outside. As I came up the hill on Hancock Avenue with the church in the distance, I was astonished to see our very tall Chrismon tree covered with white lights shining through the glassed Branyon foyer entrance to the church. It was burning very brightly! I was almost stunned by the sight and immediately felt filled with hope and strength.

on such a dreary day and wished that early passersby might also be touched by its appearance. The weeks passed by quickly and finally Christmas Eve arrived and the congregation gathered in the sanctuary for the traditional candlelight service. Dr. Appleton approached the Advent wreath to light the Christ Candle. I noticed that he was having trouble lighting the candle, and then realized that he had his pocket knife out and was probably cutting away the old wax and trimming the wick. (I thought, how will it be if the Christ candle does not light; the symbol of Christ’s birth, the light of the world, this is what we were here to observe). He did not keep us waiting long. When the candle was lit, I took out my pen and quickly wrote on my program to remember next year, and thereafter, to see that the candle was prepped to receive the light (so thankful for a pastor who was always prepared).

As I pulled into the empty parking lot and continued to stare at the tree, it occurred to me that this might be a beacon of hope, a strong symbol, to more than just me in the early morning blackness – a light shining in the darkness to the people in the surrounding area. I hoped so. Apparently, the janitor who always arrived early, had As our church, newly renovated, moves into the future, decided to plug in the tree. He greeted me at the door, may it continue to be a beacon of light and hope to all and I thanked him for giving me this welcoming sight who enter our doors.

MY YOUTHFUL ADVENTURES NOW BECOME MY CHILDREN’S — BY: LESLIE GORDON As our church campus has undergone its renovation, we have all experienced moments of displacement from the classrooms and spaces that we normally occupy. I have enjoyed these wanderings and the opportunity to revisit many spaces that I have not seen since my youth. In the late eighties I was a member of the last FBC Athens youth choir to travel to Europe on the "Overseas Adventure" that took us to performance venues in several countries. For over a year preceding the trip, we gathered for regular church activities as well as extra rehearsals, fund-raising, lock-ins, and more that prepared us musically, socially, and spiritually for the trip. I doubt there was an inch of the church that we did not cover in those days, and I still remember it all so well! During the last year I have walked my children through rooms and hallways taking on a new shape. I have recounted my youthful adventures to them as I described the rooms that used to be at the end of these halls, the corners where my friends and I played pranks on one other, and even the old "Youth House" that once stood where we now hold many of their activities. I am excited for the benefits that our renovations will bring for everyone in our church family, and the many who are yet to join our church family, but I feel particular excitement for my children as they move into their new spaces and the next phase of their youth. This new physical space will be the backdrop for their spiritual transformation. What marvelous blessings await us all, indeed!

YOUNG COUPLES ON A JOURNEY — BY BILL HOPPER In the early 1980’s, then Senior Minister Jon Appleton established a young couples class at FBC Athens. A few years later, that class assumed the name of the Callaway-Wilcox class to memorialize two matriarchs of our congregation. Over the ensuing years, those “young couples” have matured physically, but more importantly, spiritually. Like any collection of people, the class has experienced the many highs and lows of life – births, weddings, relocations, divorces, and even deaths. The Callaway-Wilcox class has even served as the seed for other FBC Athens classes. Through all of the life events, the class has supported each other and developed a special bond and trust as fellow Christians on a similar, yet unique life journey. We have been newlyweds, parents, newly singles, empty nesters, and care takers together. We have studied the word of God and tried to apply the teachings of Jesus to our daily lives. While doing so, the C-W class has become a vital group within the larger congregation of FBC Athens. A few years ago, Donna and I were asked to leave the Callaway-Wilcox class for a special mission to co-teach, with Mary and Chris Conley, a “young couples” class in formation. As I now listen to the members of this young couples class, I am often reminded of the Callaway-Wilcox class of the 1980’s and 1990’s. These young couples are also on a journey as newlyweds and parents. The highs of their journey will need to be celebrated and the lows will need to be supported. Christian love and support are two of the most vital roles of a church family. I can see the bond and trust forming in this new young couples class, and it lifts my heart. It is my sincere desire that the current young couples class will become the future leaders of FBC Athens I hope that they comprehend the necessity and importance of their presence to the overall health of our church. It is also my prayer that they, as I do, will be able to look back in thirty or so years and give thanks to God for a loving, supportive class of fellow believers.

FAMILY TIES — BY JILL DAWSON I love my church! My family history runs deep. My great-grandparents and grandparents were members of this church when it was built in the present location in the 1920’s. My father was raised in this church, and my mother joined when they married in 1947. They were all members when the 1950’s educational wing was built. My sister and I were on the Cradle Roll here and are still members. Rick joined the church when we married in 1975. We raised our two daughters here. My parents. Rick and I, and our girls were all members when we built the 1990’s addition. I was dedicated and baptized here. Rick and I were married in the sanctuary. Our daughters, Laura and Emily, were dedicated and baptized here. Laura was married in the

sanctuary. Both my parents’ funerals were here. Obviously, this church has been a huge part of my life. Things have changed over the years and some things have remained constant. This church has always been a presence in downtown Athens. It has always had highly educated, knowledgeable pastors. We have always had loving and dedicated lay leaders and teachers. Our church has always been forward thinking and open to questioning and new ideas. It is a place of love, knowledge, caring, and acceptance.

serve our community, new ways to spread God’s love to foreign lands, and, yes, new ways to use our building for God’s work. It’s just Rick and I here now. Our children are raising their families in churches in other states. As I look back, I thank God for all the wonderful First Baptist saints who helped raise my entire family in faith and love. I see this faith being passed on to my grandchildren and there simply is no greater joy!

Now, our church is beginning a new phase. Our renovation is complete. But, our church is also always We are open and ready to continue changing. As our late historian, Ernie God’s good work. Some things will Hynds, would say, “We are always remain constant, and that’s good. But becoming new.” We have found it’s once again time for new ideas, new ways to worship God in new ways to share God’s wondrous Christian community, new ways to love. Rick and I are ready to serve!


The congregation of fifteen members that would become First Baptist Church began meeting at the local Presbyterian Church in 1830. Its close ties to the University of Georgia developed from the beginning as the first pastor, the Reverend James Shannon, was a native of Ireland and a UGA professor. The church is currently in its fourth physical location, which it moved to in 1921, at the corner of Hancock and Pulaski Streets. The church building has had several major renovations and additions with the most recent renovation, completed in 2018. FBC Athens has had only six senior ministers in the past 100 plus years. Three of those pastors, Dr. Jim Wilkinson, Dr. Howard Giddens, and Dr. Jon Appleton, served for a total of nearly seventy years.

FBC Athens is the founding church of several local churches including Beech Haven Baptist Church and Milledge Avenue Baptist Church. FBC Athens is one of the founding churches of the McAfee School of Theology. It has also closely partnered with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia and nationally with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship since the origins of both organizations. This partnership continues today as our most recent senior minister, Dr. Paul Baxley, resigned from the pulpit in 2019 to become the Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. While FBC Athens has a rich history woven into the fabric of Athens, Georgia, it also has a bright future ahead. As Dr. Ernie Hynds, church historian and UGA Journalism professor, stated in his written history of the church, “As First Baptist quickly faces its 200th anniversary in 2030, the church stands poised to continue to carry out its programs of worship, witness, ministry, education, and application of the gospel.� Information obtained from Always Becoming New: A History of First Baptist Church Athens, Georgia (2011), written by the late Dr. Ernest C. Hynds, longtime church member and church historian.


Athens is located in northeastern part of Georgia, approximately 70 miles northeast of Atlanta. Home to the main campus of the University of Georgia, Athens has a population of about 126,000 (2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate). The town traces its beginnings to a trading settlement on the Oconee River and was given the name of Athens after the site was selected for the first state-chartered university. Athens has had a unified government with Clarke County since 1991.

musicians looking to make their mark on the music scene. The city is also home to a number of notable visual, literary and culinary artists. Frequent events held throughout the year, from festivals to sporting events, make Athens a fun place for locals and visitors alike.

The presence of the University of Georgia (UGA) in our community has a large impact on both the secular and faith communities in Clarke and several surrounding counties. FBC Athens traces its beginnings to a site on Athens’ location in the northeastern part of the state puts the current UGA campus. As UGA has grown into a it in close proximity to a number of interesting leading research university, attracting students and destinations. Atlanta and its suburbs are one to two faculty from all over the world, the Athens community hours away, making for easy day trips for shopping, and its churches have also enjoyed growth and entertainment or for accessing Atlanta’s Hartsfielddiversification. FBC Athens, as a downtown church in Jackson International Airport. The mountains and lakes the shadow of the University, is well poised to serve the of north Georgia are also within an easy drive from spiritual and basic human needs of the residents of our Athens. A visit to Georgia’s beaches, the “Golden Isles,” area. Recent growth in many areas of our ministry can be made in about five hours. attests to the importance of the connections between FBC, UGA and surrounding communities. Athens is well known as a vibrant, creative community. For many decades, noted musical acts have emerged Click the images below for more information about from Athens, and the community has been a hub for the University and downtown Athens.

355 Pulaski Street Athens, GA 30601 www.firstbaptistathens.org

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