By Liz Andrasi Deere
This year, Wendy Joyner Peacock is celebrating her 24th anniversary as pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Americus, Ga. Wendy likens her role as pastor to that of a symphony director.
She describes it as, “helping the congregation to make beautiful music…valuing the gifts that each part of the symphony has to offer and knowing when to amplify some sections of the orchestra.”
As the sole staff member of Fellowship Baptist, Wendy celebrates the dedicated service of church members and volunteers. As she does so, she keeps her eyes open for ways to help people find and amplify their gifts. She and her congregation seek to be the presence of Christ in a place they love.
“Sumter County is really an amazing little place,” she said. “You have Koinonia Farm which started here, Habitat for Humanity, and President Carter is from Sumter County. There is a lot of energy and creativity continuing to originate from this corner of the world.”
Wendy is deeply grateful for long-term, rooted relationships that are the fruit of her many years of ministry in Sumter County, in part because, early in her journey, she wondered if there would ever be a place for her to serve in a church.
A Relentless Call to Ministry
Wendy felt a call to ministry when she was very young. But she came of age and graduated from the University of Georgia as the controversy over how women could serve in the church was coming to a head in the Southern Baptist Convention. Even so, she couldn’t ignore what she describes as “that relentless call to ministry” and stepped forward faithfully and enrolled at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Their Baptist Studies program proved to be the right fit and provided Wendy a wonderful ecumenical experience.
Toward the end of her time in seminary, Fellowship Baptist Church called and asked for an interview. The first sermon Wendy ever preached to a congregation was there, in view of a call. She remembered feeling, “very blessed and amazed that somebody was willing to talk to me about being a pastor.” And for the church’s part, she said, “I think they were very humbled and amazed that somebody was willing to look at a small, struggling church in Southwest Georgia and to come and serve with them.”
Finding Fellowship with CBF
Fellowship Baptist Church was founded in 1973 and the founders “had a real commitment to God’s house being a place for all people,” she said. “And the more the church has been able to live out its call, the more it has attracted like-minded people who view ministry and church in similar ways.”
When the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship formed, Fellowship Baptist Church immediately knew that this was a group of people and churches with whom they wanted to associate and belong. CBF was still young when Wendy began pastoring, but she quickly got involved. She served on the CBF of Georgia Coordinating Council in the late 1990s. She was surprised and glad when CBF of Georgia called a couple of years ago and asked her to serve again, honored to be elected as moderator.
CBF of Georgia strives to, “network, empower and mobilize Baptist Christians and churches for effective missions and ministry in the name of Christ.” Over the years, Wendy has demonstrated her commitment to this goal through her service with Fellowship Baptist Church. One way is through a weekend for women in ministry in which a seminary student is invited to offer a sermon and to spend the weekend in worship and fellowship with the congregation.
The congregation has not only extended hospitality to empower ministers, they have also supported initiatives of CBF of Georgia such as March Mission Madness, which mobilizes youth from all over Georgia for a weekend of service and connection. In March, Sumter County hosted the event, with youth volunteering at seven different work sites. Wendy invested in the students and ministry partners by running errands and making sure everyone had what they needed—serving behind the scenes as well as from the pulpit.
Wendy is a servant-leader gifted at networking, empowering and mobilizing, and has experienced excitement and energy on the Coordinating Council over the past years and is grateful to her CBF colleagues who have led well and helped prepare her to serve as their moderator. She looks forward to continuing to discover and invest in opportunities for churches to connect and to help her congregation to keep “making beautiful music.”
This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of fellowship! magazine, the quarterly publication of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Read online here and subscribe for free to fellowship! and CBF’s weekly e-newsletter fellowship! weekly at www.cbf.net/subscribe.