Houston & Peach

Church prays for Perdue and his ‘mission’ in D.C.

"If they grow it, we'll sell it."

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue answers questions prior to a commissioning service for him and his wife Mary at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins on July 9.
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue answers questions prior to a commissioning service for him and his wife Mary at Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins on July 9.

When a church sends members out on a mission, it often holds a commissioning ceremony to ask God’s blessings for the trip, but a Warner Robins church on Sunday held a ceremony in recognition of a different kind of mission.

Hundreds of people came to Second Baptist Church for a commissioning service honoring Sonny and Mary Perdue. Sonny Perdue, who served as Georgia governor for eight years, is the new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

He is a member of the church and his son, Jim Perdue, is pastor. Jim Perdue said the ceremony was held to recognize his parents for the “mission” in which they are embarking to serve the nation.

Jim Perdue said people may think of a missionary only as someone who goes to “far reaching” places around the world, but there’s more to it than that.

“A missionary is someone who, while he has everything rolling like it’s supposed to right where he is with his business and family and kids and his grandkids, will pick up and move to Washington to D.C., which we all know needs more missionaries, and be faithful and obedient to God,” Jim Perdue said.

He then asked his parents to come down to the altar, and dozens more family and church members gathered around them as he prayed for them.

Sonny Perdue is a Houston County native and the first Georgian to serve as secretary of agriculture. Before the ceremony, he said he has been impressed with President Donald Trump in their conversations and in cabinet meetings. The two have traveled together on Air Force One around the country and to China to advance U.S. agricultural interests, Perdue said. He described his interaction with the president as “probably different than his public persona.”

“He’s thoughtful,” Perdue said. “He’s serious minded. I think his speech in Poland this week showed his heart about the United States of America. He believes in it and he really wants it restored to its prominence worldwide.”

One of the speakers prior to Sunday’s ceremony was the Rev. Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, which Perdue attended when he was governor. Hunt said he was once going through a bad time and Perdue invited him to spend the night at the governor’s mansion, cooked him dinner and took him to a NASCAR race. He choked up talking about it.

“One reason I feel so encouraged in my soul about this country and its leadership is that one of the people who sits on the cabinet of President Trump, I know knows God, and I know there are others,” Hunt said. “Thank you for being a friend and may God use you to be a faithful friend to our president.”

Also speaking was the Rev. Benny Tate of Rock Springs Church in Milner. He said Perdue could have gone on happily in retirement but answered the call to serve.

“The only reason for power is to empower,” Tate said. “The only reason God promotes us is to put us in a position so we can help other people, and I know that’s what Sonny Perdue will do. He will take that position and use it to help other people.”

Although he did not speak in the ceremony, among those in attendance was Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.

“I believe he is the most qualified person to ever hold this office,” Black said before the ceremony. “It’s a very important time in American agriculture. ... You couldn’t have a more experienced person at the helm.”

Pastor Jim Perdue with Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins answers questions about his parents prior to a commissioning service for them July 9.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1