One of the largest churches in Liberty County, First Baptist Church of Hinesville, recently underwent a change in leadership.
The Rev. Rick Brown of Baxley currently is serving as the church’s interim pastor. He has been in the ministry for 32 years, 24 of which he has spent as a full-time pastor.
“I surrendered to preach at age 23,” Brown said. “For the past eight years, I have served as an interim pastor. I have served as interim pastor at six churches. At this stage of my life, I never thought I would do anything else besides full-time pastoring.”
He has served as an interim at First Baptist Church in Hazelhurst, Glennville and Screven.
Brown has been at First Baptist Church for five months. Before that, he was the pastor of Dunn Memorial in Baxley for 18 and a half years.
“First Baptist is a strong church in Hinesville. The previous pastor and members get the credit. The people are very warm and a loving bunch of people,” Brown said. “During the week of June 13-17 from 9 a.m. until noon, members of First Baptist held their annual vacation Bible school. The first day, we had 230 in attendance.”
The interim pastor said he is enjoying his assignment.
“I initially signed a six-month covenant agreement and it was just renewed and extended until January 2012 or until they call a full-time pastor. There is more freedom as an interim. As an interim, you are there to help them through their time of transition — you are like a troubleshooter,” he said.
“First Baptist has a contemporary service at 9:30 a.m. with approximately 250-325 attending. There is a traditional service at
11 a.m. with 250-325 in attendance, and an evening service with approximately 80-100 attending. We have Wednesday night Bible study and Awana during the school year. We also have supper on Wednesday nights,” Brown said.
He is grateful to 82-year-old Pastor Bennie Baker of Plant City, Fla., for mentoring him. “I was converted and baptized under his leadership,” said Brown, who also credits his parents, Richard and Pat Brown, and his Sunday school teacher, Ray Thornton.
“He probably had the greatest impact spiritually in my life,” Brown said.
His advice to pastors is simple: “Stay close to the Lord. Make sure you get out amongst your people; get to know them. They will forgive poor preaching, but they won’t forgive poor pastoring,” he said.
As interim pastor, Brown runs a lot of revivals.
“A lot of churches are no longer having a week’s revival. There is a trend toward having revivals, beginning Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Monday through Wednesday,” he said.
“In Baxley, I serve as a community pastor. Many people have called upon me. I had a radio ministry for 17 and half years and also used to be a chaplain with the sheriff department and serve as a chaplain at the hospital.”
Brown is an avid Florida Gator fan and loves football and good gospel music.
“My wife is the pianist,” said the pastor, who also enjoys walking. “I walk two to three miles daily, seven days a week. I believe in exercise. It keeps the body and mind clear.”
Rick and Julie Brown have been married for 35 years. They have three daughters, three grandsons and two granddaughters. Although the pastor was born in Lakeland, Fla., the Browns have lived in Baxley for 26 years.
Worshippers can listen to First Baptist Church’s services online at www.fbchinesvillega.com.