Noonday recently received information from Tim Dowdy, lead strategist for Pastor Wellness at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, about all they are doing lately and what they have available to help pastors. Here’s the letter:
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Thank you so much for all you do to advance the Gospel by encouraging and serving the churches in your Association. The work you do is so important, and I am personally grateful for your ministry. I wanted to send you an update concerning the ministry of Pastor Wellness here at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
As you know we have gone through a great deal of restructuring over the last couple of years so we could better serve pastors, churches, and people throughout the state of Georgia. One of the areas created in this restructuring was a new ministry department— Pastor Wellness. In January of 2020, I transitioned from being the Lead Pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church to being the Lead Strategist for Pastor Wellness. Needless to say, 2020 was quite an adjustment. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, our attention was aimed at providing as much support as was possible for the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our pastors and their families. We also wanted to try to help pastors navigate the uncharted decisions that had to made to survive the ramifications of the pandemic and effectively carry out the mission of the church.
As we turn the page of the calendar to 2021, we have found ourselves still dealing with the pandemic so Pastor Wellness will still be focused on providing support, encouragement, and assistance for physical, mental/emotional, relational, and spiritual well-being. However, we have begun to develop some of the other areas of our ministry to pastors as well such as vocational and financial. So, I wanted to provide a quick overview of the ministry that has been entrusted to us. Again, it is a privilege to serve with you. Thank you for all you do!
Below is a list of the areas that you will find information on in this email:
• Pastor Wellness Staff
• Pastor/Staff and Family Counseling
• Pastor Search Team Training and Resources
• Transitional Pastor Training
• Church Conflict Mediation
• Retreats and Events for 2021
Pastor Wellness Staff
I am listing our staff team for Pastor Wellness along with their contact information. Please let us know if we can serve you and the pastors in your Association.
Our regional catalysts are excellent resources for your pastors and are ready to serve. Collectively our Pastor Wellness catalysts have over sixty years of pastoral experience in various sizes of churches.
Pastor Wellness office email [email protected] and phone number 770-936-5380.
Chris Reynolds (Southeast and East Central Regions)—Chris began serving as a Pastor Wellness Catalyst in March of 2020. Chris was saved in June 1978 during a youth retreat at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island and his call to ministry was confirmed in 1990 while serving as a youth minister in Hahira, Georgia. He has served in multiple areas of ministry over the last 30 years, most recently at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, where he pastored and spent 20 years leading the church to become a multi-ethnic and multi-generational congregation with over 650 baptisms. Chris currently serves at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board as a Catalyst for Pastor Wellness. has been married to Gayle for 31 years. They have two children: Dallas (married to Russell) and Davis. They’re blessed with two grandchildren, Chase, and Claire.
Chris can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling 770-570-8375.
Jeff Gongwer (East Central and South East Regions) —Jeff began serving as a Pastor Wellness Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in January of 2021(after serving for the previous 15 months as a GBMB Missions Consultant). He was saved at age 17, and during college, he confirmed his call to ministry. After seminary, Jeff pastored a rural church in Arkansas; then a church plant in Jonesboro, Georgia; followed by a rural-suburban church in Hampton, Georgia; and finally, a suburban-urban church in Snellville, Georgia. During these 25 years, Jeff has pastored in various settings and sizes of churches. Jeff and his wife Sheri have been married for 31 years and have 2 married sons (and 2 wonderful daughters-in-law).
Jeff can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling 770-722-9245.
Andy Childs (Northeast and Northwest Regions)—Andy will begin serving as a Pastor Wellness Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in March 2021. Andy was saved at the age of nine during Vacation Bible School at Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, then during a youth mission trip to Blue Field, West Virginia, the Lord called him to ministry at the age of thirteen.
Andy has served as Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Toccoa, Georgia since November of 2003. Ebenezer has grown from an average on-campus Sunday morning attendance of 350 in 2003 to a current Sunday morning campus attendance of 600+. Ebenezer consistently leads the four-county Tugalo Association in baptisms and Cooperative Program missions giving. Ebenezer has a second campus in El Bongo, Nicaragua, and has been a church planting partner in Arizona, Vermont, Nevada with current partnerships in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Ebenezer is also a sending church with seven missionaries/families serving around the world. Andy previously has pastored a small inner-city church in Phoenix, Arizona, and has served on the staff of mega-churches in Arizona (North Phoenix Baptist Church) and Georgia (First Baptist Snellville).
Andy has served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, a Trustee of the North American Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a board member of the P230 Outreach Foundation. Andy graduated from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Andy and his wife Melissa have been married since 1991, they have two children. Micah, a 2019 graduate of Truett-McConnell University is married to Jordan. Emilee is a student at Toccoa Falls College.
Andy can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling 706-491-0203.
Mary Cox—Mary is the Catalyst for Pastor Wives at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. She is married to Dr. Frank Cox and has been serving with him at North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, GA where he has been the pastor since 1980.
Mary currently serves at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board as the Pastors Wives Consultant and has been in this role since 2004. She has also served as the Director of Woman’s Ministry at North Metro Baptist Church for 28 years. Mary’s greatest accomplishments are being a wife, mother, and Gigi. She has 3 children and 5 precious grandchildren.
Mary’s email is [email protected] and she can be reached at 770-936-5253.
Wendy Milligan (BSEP, BSN, RN)—Wendy is joining Pastor Wellness as the Medical Director of Health and Wellness. She is married to Matt and they have one daughter Maci (and Ellie their papillon). She is a registered nurse and has been working in a hospital emergency room for the last four years with a passion for patient care and teaching. Wendy has a heart for serving and believes serving others is her principle spiritual gift. She was born and raised in Gwinnett County GA with strong Christian values. During college, the Lord continued to deepen her faith and grow her relationship with Christ through FCA. She and Matt are members of Bethlehem Church and are grateful to be a part of this church family, it is truly where they are at home.
Wendy’s contact information is [email protected] and she can be reached at 770-936-5384.
Laura Simms— Laura Simms is an Administrative Assistant with over 27 years’ combined experience, professionally and ministerially. She has worked with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for 10 years providing support for Church Minister Relations, Ministers Wives, and the Pastor Wellness Team. She attends Christ Place Baptist Church in Oakwood, Ga, and is married to Jason (27 years) and they have 2 adult children (18 & 26). Laura enjoys traveling with her family, being creative, and watching sports in her spare time.
Laura’s email is [email protected] and she can be reached at 770-936-5362.
Loretta Crow—Loretta serves as one of the Pastor Wellness administrative assistants. She is a Georgia native and is married to Rev. Scott Crow. They have been serving at Mount Zion since January 2012. They have two daughters, Sarah (and husband, Joseph) and Katie (and husband, Zack) and one granddaughter, Stella Jane. Scott and Loretta love to spend time with family, traveling, and attending opening day at the Atlanta Braves baseball games.
Loretta’s email is [email protected] and she can be reached at 770-936-5232.
Tim Dowdy (Lead Strategist for Pastor Wellness at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board)—Tim was saved at the age of 11 at a Southern Baptist camp in Panama City, Florida, and called to the Gospel ministry at age 18. He graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity (1985) and Doctorate of Ministry (1991). Prior to serving with the GBMB, he served as the Lead Pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church, McDonough, Georgia for 31 years, and as the President of Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. During that time the church consistently led the Southside Baptist Network in baptisms (totaling 3792 baptisms), helped plant 31 churches and send out 25 church pastors, 17 missionaries, and church planters as well as over 40 others serving churches as staff members. Tim also served as the Chairman for North American Mission Board Trustees 2010-12. He presently assists in the church planting efforts in Puerto Rico for the SBC.
Tim and his wife, Christie, have been married for 38 years. They enjoy spending time with their son and daughter-in-law, Micah and Kelly, and their grandsons, Wyatt, and Jack.
Tim can be reached at [email protected] and his contact number is 678-618-0055.
Pastor/Staff and Family Counseling
Presently we have an agreement with Eagle’s Landing Christian Counseling Center to provide professional counseling for our pastors and their families. We do offer a limited scholarship for our pastors and their immediate families to alleviate some of the cost.
If the Pastor/staff member or a family member needs professional Christian counseling, contact Eagle’s Landing Christian Counseling Center at 778-289-6981 or use their secure contact form at ELCCC.org. You can also view their counselors and bios on their website. You will speak with Avanne or Xyra and be sure to let them know that you are a pastor with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Please provide them with the name of your church, your position with the church, and your relationship with the staff member at the church. They will match you with a counselor and get you scheduled as soon as possible. Face-to-face counseling is available in their offices in McDonough, Covington, and Locust Grove. Distance counseling through HIPAA compliant video chat is also available.
Pastor Search Team Training and Resources
Training for Pastor Search Teams is now a part of our ministry assignment in Pastor Wellness. Presently Chris Reynolds, Jeff Gongwer, Andy Childs, and I are available to help train Pastor Search Teams/Committees as they begin the process of searching for a new pastor. We can assist churches to connect with an interim pastor or transitional pastor. Please contact our office at 770-936-5380 or [email protected]. We will be glad to set up a training for your Pastor Search Team.
We have joined a new job board that will help churches connect with pastor/staff candidates and provides the opportunity for churches to post staff position openings for candidates to view so they can submit their resumes. The job board is connected to several State Conventions throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. A pastor seeking a job in a GBC church or a GBC church seeking to fill an open ministry position, please visit our site georgiabaptistjobs.com to register as a job seeker to post a job.
A candidate looking for a ministry position and desiring to post their resume nationwide or churches that have an open ministry position and would like to submit a job nationwide can use this link and submit the requested information: http://www.sbc.net/jobs/
Note: Churches you will need your SBCID Number. If you are a new church and don’t have an SBCID number yet, or forgot your SBCID number, please contact Laura Simms, at [email protected] or 770-936-5362
Mediation for Church Conflict
If the need for mediation to resolve conflict within a church body arises please contact our office at 770-936-5380 or [email protected]. We will provide a diagnostic assessment and personal assistance to hopefully result in a godly and healthy resolution.
Transitional Pastor Training and Certification
Pastor Wellness will also be providing the training and certification for Transitional Pastors for our Georgia Baptist Churches. The Transitional Pastor role is a tremendous opportunity for those pastors who have retired or are not presently serving in a church ministry position who have a desire to help churches through this time of transition.
2021 Potential Transitional Pastor Training Opportunities
August 2021 East Central Region: Bethany Baptist Church Juliette, Georgia—August 9-10, 2021
November 2021 Southeast Region—exact date and place to be confirmed soon
Once the training is completed the candidate will be certified as a transitional pastor with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. To complete the training the candidate will need to submit a resume, complete an interview through Pastor Wellness, attend the training course and complete all background checks required.
To sign up for the August training opportunity you can register beginning May 1, 2021 at [email protected] or call Laura Simms at 770-936-5362 for more information
Pastors and Wives Retreats/Summits
(These events are open to Pastors and ministerial staff)
This year we are offering two retreats:
April 9-11, 2021: Jekyll Island Club Resort is designed for Pastors, ministry staff members, and their spouses. The cost is $99.00. If the pastor needs help getting a supply preacher for Sunday, April 11th we can help with this as well. Registration is full and we are currently adding pastors to our waiting list.
Register here https://ga.sbcworkspace.com/Pub/Event/Register/55233259
October 22-24th, 2021: Lake Lanier Legacy Lodge designed for Pastors, ministry staff members, and their spouses. The cost is $99.00. If the pastor needs help getting a supply preacher for Sunday, October 24th we can help with this as well. Registration will open soon.
Health Care Summits
These are medical assessment and testing opportunities that will be free for our pastors, ministers, and their wives. Once the registration is open for each event, they will be available to those who register and secure an appointment on a first come first serve basis. Appointments must be secured in advance on our website. Examples of the health and wellness assessments provided will be biometric screening, free dental hygiene/cleaning, and dental appointments, Angio-screen (this procedure uses non-invasive, non-diagnostic ultrasound technology to provide valuable information about your heart rhythm, neck, and leg arteries and fitness. Results are in about 10 minutes) and limited bloodwork.
May 13, 2021—West Central Region
August 26, 2021— East Central Region
September 23, 2021—Northwest Region
Lead Strategist Pastor Wellness
Georgia Baptist Mission Board
6405 Sugarloaf Parkway
Duluth GA 30097