GBC President Kevin Williams, pastor of Villa Rica First Baptist Church, shares his thoughts on his time in office, and what the GBC’s 200th anniversary means to the convention.
Question: What would you hope to see happen within the convention this year?
My goal from the very beginning has always been to try and engage churches in evangelism and missions. If we can get churches on the mission field serving – and that could be anywhere from local, state, national or international – churches get more engaged. While I know there are many other issues going on, if we could get our focus across the Convention on those two things – evangelism and missions – then that directly impacts everything else you do in church from discipleship to worship to ministry. Everything is involved in those two front aspects.
Q: At the end of your term, what do you hope to be able to say about your time as president?
I want to be able to say that I did my best to engage churches in those two things mentioned above – evangelism and missions. I have personally been able to take some pastors on the mission field, and they’re now engaged in missions. We recently took a mission trip to Guatemala, and there were five pastors on that trip. Now all five of them are planning to go back with their own church members.
Let me phrase it this way: My church had many issues when I was nominated as pastor nine years ago. I knew I couldn’t change some things, but I knew we could move forward. So I took some guys on a mission trip to Guatemala and started the process of planting a church. Nine years later, around 380 people have been on foreign mission trips.
Growth happens within a church’s four walls, but the work is outside of those walls. That drives everything in our church. Going puts your hands on something that’s tangible. It becomes real. When people return, you can tell they’ve caught the vision.
Q: What has been your favorite memory as your time as president, knowing that you still have some time to go?
One of the best things is getting to know as many pastors as I have and forming friendships. We get to encourage one another and connect. The relationships have been great. Other great memories are what happened on the mission trips. High-fiving, cutting up, having a good time with these pastors. My favorite memories are being down there on the foreign mission field with these men, these pastors, watching them engage in global missions. I know what it does for their churches. It’ll change them.
For personal reasons, one of my favorite memories was last year at the Convention in Jonesboro. All four of my kids came up on the platform to do my nomination for my second term.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of being president?
This is kind of apparent, but the COVID issues have been tough. The challenge is there were a lot of the things we could have done, but we had to hold off, rearrange schedules and learn how to do a meeting through Zoom. All those things were challenging.
I’m so mission driven I want to get out there and do everything. That’s been difficult.
Q: What legacy would you like to leave behind as president?
I know this sounds crazy, and maybe very repetitive, but I want my legacy to be that I encouraged churches in Georgia to engage in missions. I’d like my legacy to be that I lived my life to be a living example to others to further the Kingdom for Jesus Christ.
Q: How do you feel that the convention has grown and changed, leading up to its 200th anniversary?
The convention has grown, and we have much to be proud of. We have grown to 3,500 churches. But where humans are involved, there are always challenges. Our greatest strength has been the Cooperative Program in order to get the gospel out to the world.
I attended a lecture on how we came to be. Of course, I thought I knew our history. But one aspect that was great to hear was the missions focus. Basically, 10 pastors got together in the Augusta area and said they wanted to send people to China to be missionaries. Out of that grew the Cooperative Program. The intention was for some churches that couldn’t do it alone to come together and send missionaries. Out of that cooperation between those guys began what we now call the Southern Baptist Convention, although we could say it was actually the GBC with its beginnings being in Georgia. It developed into what it is today with seminaries, IMB and NAMB.
Q: What makes that GBC stand apart from other conventions?
One is our size – the number of churches and people we have involved in the Georgia Baptist Convention. Each of the conventions do similar things. I appreciate the GBC’s drive for getting the gospel out through Mission Georgia and cooperation to our larger entities in the country really impacts the Kingdom.
Q: So fast forwarding to November, what are you most looking forward to celebrating the 200th anniversary?
Celebrating that we’re still going! We’ll get to celebrate looking forward to the future because we’re not done yet. Until Jesus returns, we still have a mission in front of us. Celebrating milestones like this is important because we’re still going strong. It didn’t fail. We’re still pushing the gospel forward. We are the largest evangelical, conservative denomination that strongly believes the Bible and desires to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Q: What does it mean to you to be president during the 200th year anniversary?
It’s an honor that God allowed me to be in this position for this moment. It’s been amazing for me getting to spend time with all these pastors across this great state. I feel blessed to have served in this capacity and I hope I have honored God during these two years. I hope we as Georgia Baptists will remain on task in reaching this world with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ!
Published April 8, 2022