The Executive Board voted last month to invite the Louis Johnson family to live in the Missionary house in Carrollton for the coming year. Louis will serve as worship leader at Carrollton Baptist Church and will assist missionary Farley with developing an associational strategy plan. He and Dr. Farley will be interviewing the pastors and key leaders of our churches concerning how the association can be helpful to them and to the churches. Louis will be paid by Gordo First thru mid-June 2017. The hospitality ministry of the PBA will be moved to the Ammons house.
State Missions Director, Rick Barnhart, will be the featured speaker at the next Executive Committee meeting on Monday, August 15. He will launch the associational strategy planning process at that time. Our association structure and process date from about 1980. Since then Pickens County is much changed and so are our churches. The focus of the plan will be on what we need to be doing in 2021.
*Since 1980 the county has been de-industrialized, losing about 2,500 jobs. Others have come, but the net loss has been more than 1,500. Most of our workers now commute daily to either Tuscaloosa or the Golden Triangle. The life rhythms of many of us have changed. Churches struggle to handle this change.
*Our population has aged. Many in our churches draw retirement income. So, our churches have low, but stable income.
*The prison has brought more residences, but most of the staff does not live in the county. It offers great opportunities for mission and ministry efforts.
*The four-laneing of US 82 across the county, seems to be bringing more new settlers. So, many of the churches in North Pickens can grow.
*The business sections in our towns are diminished and our churches have fewer business and professional persons in them.
*Ministries in the jail and hospital have prospered.
*The Baptist Center has become a major ministry.
*Weekly radio Sunday School lessons have been added.
*The state convention is providing more training for the basic programs in our churches.
*The association is helping to fund church starts and other ministries beyond our bounds.
*Mission teams are being sent out by the association.
*2017 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Gospel Light coming to our area.
*I will need to retire soon.
All of this and more suggests that we need to make a good plan, one that is in accord with God’s general will for churches and one that is specific to our setting. My hope is that each of our pastors and the leaders of our churches will actively participate in the process. The plan will guide our structuring of the association and our search for new leadership.
I worked with a VBS in the Sapps community for one week in July. It was a joy. Along with Mrs. Janet Estis I taught the students how to play the harmonica. Work on the rebuilding of Sapps community is moving forward. Recently, a team from Habitat for Humanity was there. They were hosted by West End Baptist church. Incidentally, Bro. Jim Robinson is the new pastor there. Good man with good skills. He also serves as a hospice chaplain.