WARNER ROBINS -- Jim Perdue, who has been pastor at Second Baptist Church of Warner Robins just shy of a year, said you can hardly speak of the church without talking about Rastus Salter.
Salter was the churchs pastor for almost 50 years, from 1955 until his death in 2005. He led the church from its home on South Sixth Street to Sandy Run Road in 1984 and its expansion to Moody Road and a 2,200-plus seat worship center in 2004.
For a number of years, he was also Perdues pastor.
I grew up at Second Baptist, Salter said. Its where I was saved when I was 11, was baptized, where I was when I was called to preach and where I was married. God brought me full circle right back here to be pastor on Jan. 1 of this year.
Perdue, 34, said Salter was his example of what a pastor ought to be. He said Salters greatest advice to him was Salters own guiding rules: be yourself, love people, preach the word and take time to study.
He laid a strong foundation for Second Baptist through preaching Gods word. That foundation has allowed the church to stay strong and healthy to this day despite any difficulties. I learned a lot from him.
The summer he graduated from Houston County High School in 1996, Perdue worked at Second Baptist in youth ministry before going to the University of Georgia. He served in ministry roles in local churches while a student in Athens and at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. He later received a Doctorate of Ministry from Liberty University.
Perdue said when he first received the call to ministry, he wasnt sure how the news would be taken at home.
God called me prior to my senior year in high school, he said. I had been to youth camp, and God made it clear. I had been working at my dads fertilizer and grain company and always figured thats what Id do with my life. I wasnt sure how my parents would take it. I remember sitting down to tell them, and they said, Yeah, weve known that since you were 10. It was such a confirmation. Theyd never said anything or pushed it until I got the message.
Perdues parents are Sonny and Mary Perdue -- His father being Georgias governor from 2003 to 2011.
I learned a lot from my father as well, Perdue said. Mostly his work ethic, love for people, leadership, integrity and from his being the spiritual leader of our home. That had a great impact.
Perdue said he considers himself a family man, saying his family is his greatest joy. He is married to Stephanie, also a graduate of Houston County High School, and they have four children: Jake, Judd, Sadie Grace and Anna Kate.
Being a parent is the toughest but most rewarding job I have -- and most important, he said. I could pastor this church and be a great success, but if I fail to raise my kids in a godly manner, Ive failed miserably.
Concerning the churchs origins, Perdue said Second Baptist began as a church mission sponsored by First Baptist Church of Warner Robins in the South Zeigler Community Building. By 1947, it was constituted independently as Second Baptist.
Through the years, Second Baptist has sponsored other missions and planted churches such as Northside Baptist Church in 1952, Evergreen Baptist in 1954, Garrison Baptist in 1955, Shirley Hills Baptist in 1962, Green Acres Baptist in 1964, Hebron Baptist Church (Ohio) in 1967 and Shady Grove Baptist in 1992.
Second Baptist has had an impact on our community and an impact for the Gospel, Perdue said. We want to have a footprint in our community. Its good to ask, If we were gone, would they miss us? I want us to continue to be a blessing by presenting the Gospel in love and in truth. We want to hold to biblical integrity while loving people and helping them right where they are. We also want to have a greater global impact. Id like us to be so involved in the nations that we could say the sun never sets on the work were involved in worldwide.
Being a large church, Second Baptist has a huge array of ministries from the typical to the unusual.
Perdue said one of the churchs largest is Victory Sports, a combination of Upwards and other sports ministries. He said it allows the church the opportunity to meet a need in a sports-centered community as well as present Jesus to families and individuals.
He said because of the large military community here, the church developed a ministry called Helping Hands that focuses on families of deployed service members as well as widows and others in need.
Its a really hard working group in our church who take care of lawns and other practical things around the house for wives and moms with deployed spouses, he said. We do it for members of our church family but also for friends and neighbors they have in the same situation. Its something practical we can do with no strings attached thats a good expression of Christs love.
With the church continuing to grow, Perdue said his role as shepherd is that of visionary and leader as well as being responsible for feeding the congregation Gods word.
But is Second Baptist his home for the long-term as it was for Salter?
I believe it is and hope and pray it is, he said. Id love to spend decades here ,and I feel like thats what God has called me to do. We have to stay sensitive to Gods voice, but I feel this is a long-term haul. Theres a sense of strength that comes from long-term ministry, and I look forward to experiencing that. One reason I love being a Christian is I know its what I was created to be, and being here right now is what I was created to be doing.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.