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November 2020 Witness

As I prepare for my retirement, my desire is to prepare you for your next pastor. I want to instruct that process, but not to influence the person the church chooses. To that end, our church family elected a Pastor Search Team on October 18th made up of the following members:

Monte McCall, Chairman, Rene Hubbard, Robert Rainey, Kathy Selph, Allen Smith, and Josh Swatts, Alternate. 

It should excite you to know that three of those six have experience serving on a pastor search team before. On Sunday evening, November 1st, they will receive training from Chris Reynolds who serves our region in the Pastor Wellness division of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.     This past Sunday evening, October 25th, they met with our Personnel Team to ask for an updated job description for our senior pastor and to discuss how we should pursue an interim or “transitional pastor” to temporarily serve as pastor when I retire. As you can see, our Pastor Search Team has hit the ground running!

In the days ahead, you can expect the Pastor Search Team to put together a congregational survey that will give you a voice in the pastor search process. They, of course, will also be receiving resumes for a period of time, and then will begin to seek the person whom they believe should be the next pastor of our church. You, of course, will have an opportunity to meet that individual and their family, as well as to hear our prospective pastor preach before you are asked to vote.

Thank you for your support of three events that recently took place. On Saturday, October 24th, Mike Maynard led our Landscape Team, joined by a record number of fine folks, to beautify our grounds throughout our whole campus. Our church complex has never looked this good! Our DRIVE THRU TRUNK OR TREAT on October 31st was shared with four other area churches and designed to bless the children of our community. Thanks to Children’s Minister, Jennifer Zeager, for putting together this event. Thanks also to all who helped with our FALL ROUND-UP on Sunday morning, November 1st. Our Deacons and Sunday School teachers contacted scores of families in our church to ask them to be present for that special day. To counteract COVID, we met in three separate worship locations that day. And Tom Speciale and crew did a fine job serving us a delicious lunch.

COVID-19 continues to change things. Due to the virus, the Community Thanksgiving Service has been cancelled and the ministers of Lamar Christian Ministerial Association will participate in the DOWNTOWN ILLUMINATION SERVICE instead. Our women are planning a CHRISTMAS CANOPY for November 30th  and December 1st. Our church and community will have the opportunity to attend either night. In order to socially distance, each Canopy event will have a maximum attendance of 100 to be determined by pre-registration. To register please visit

Allow Suzanne and I to thank you once again for the wonderful privilege of serving as pastor and wife here at First Baptist for the last 28 ½ years. I never dreamed that we would stay so long, but I’m sure glad we did! You are a great church family! REMEMBER NOW & ALWAYS…

I Love You!  Pastor Garth


October 2020

By the time you receive this, I will have announced to our church family that I will retire as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Barnesville effective December 31, 2020.   It is with mixed emotions that I shared this news with our congregation on Sunday, September 27th. Suzanne and I look forward to starting a new and more relaxed phase of our life together, but to step away from leadership in such a wonderful church has made this a bitter/sweet decision for us.


Knowing this decision was coming, I have been meeting with a TRANSITION TEAM since last March. Much like the “church council” of my early days here in Barnesville, this team is made up of eight members who occupy key positions in our church.   They are Denise Cox (Women’s Missions Director),  Kathy Selph (Sunday School Director), Joe Andrews (Mission Action Team Chairman), Steven Bacon (Generations Following Building Chairman), Ken Chambless (Sunday School Class Teacher), Bill Lindsey (Church Treasurer), Stephen Smith (Deacon Chairman 2019-2020) and Scott Turner (Personnel Team Chairman).


We read and discussed together the book Next: Pastoral Succession that Works by two leading church life researchers. My goal has been to prepare a team of leaders who will, in turn, be able to help our church through this transition time between my pastorate and your next pastor. During the three months in which I will continue to be your pastor, I look forward to sharing with you good memories from our years together as well as what I hope is sound, biblical advice for your future.


According to our Constitution and Bylaws, “A pulpit (pastor search) committee will be nominated by the chairman of the deacon body and elected by the church to seek out a prospective pastor…” (page 5). Stephen Smith, our outgoing Deacon Chairman, and Harold Blevins, our incoming Deacon Chairman, have been working on putting together that pastor search team and will be ready to make a presentation soon, first to the Deacon Body and then to the entire congregation. That team will then begin the search for your new pastor. Please be much in prayer for this entire process that it might be done in a “proper and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)


Our church has enjoyed almost 200 fruitful years with 34 pastors that were privileged to “shepherd the flock of God.” (1 Peter 5:2) As I think about the future, I am excited about what God is going to do in and through this church family! You blessed me with a wonderful, dedicated and talented church staff. You blessed me with deacons who “deak” and teachers who teach. You were always cooperative in every endeavor we undertook for the advancement of the Gospel of Christ. You made it easy to be your pastor. Thank you!


We are in PHASE 4 of our re-opening and it’s good to see the church filling back up again, even though we must remain in simultaneous services at 9:00 and 11:00 to socially distance ourselves. SUNDAY SCHOOL is going well, too. Our teachers and class members are to be commended for their creativity and faithfulness to their task during this unprecedented time. We began our PARTIAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT reopening on September 16th. This will continue through the end of the year.    Beginning in 2021, we look forward to bringing back our choir programs on Wednesdays at 5:00 P.M. with our Wednesday Night Supper at 5:45.


My 28 ½ years with you have passed so quickly. Thank you for making First Baptist Church of Barnesville the best church any minister could hope to be blessed to pastor!      And, ALWAYS REMEMBER…


   I Love You, Garth        
OCTOBER 2020                                                                                              


September 2020

The first thing you’ll notice about our September Witness is that it is different from past newsletters.   Most of our newsletters are long on graphics and short on text.    We hope to keep the eye-appeal in this month’s newsletter, but we have added a great deal more text from our ministerial staff.

Navigating our way through COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge of my 36 years of pastoral ministry.   There have been greater crisises both nationally and locally during those years, but there hasn’t been anything that so dramatically changed the way we do everything, including church!    Thank you for hanging in there with us during this turbulent, confusing time as we have sought to continue to minister to our church and community.    Speaking of ministry, you will read about the ministries and ministry plans that each of our ministerial staff have been involved in or are planning in this Witness.   

We hope that we are seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel.”    Through Sunday, September  6th, we will maintain our Phase 3 schedule of Classic services (Sanctuary & Gym) at 9:00 A.M. and Contemporary services (Sanctuary & Gym) at 11:00 A.M.    Those will be done with reservations to maintain social distancing, but we are adding childcare for both 11:00 services for birth through Pre-K that will continue on.

We look forward to more fully reopening our church on Sunday, September 13th.   This will be our PHASE 4 opening and will include the following features:

  • We will continue to have a total of four Sunday morning services: Classic Service in Sanctuary and Gym from 9:00 to 9:50 A.M. Contemporary Service in Sanctuary and Gym from 11:00 to 12:00 Noon.
  • Voluntary social distancing practices (except for families) will be observed. No reservations are needed for any of the services.
  • Only main building doors will be left open from the outside. Temperatures will be checked at these doors with modern devices.   Ushers will be available to help in seating you, but there will not be assigned seats.   Caution tape will mark off pews not to be used in the Sanctuary.
  • Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a mask since contact will be closer in Phase 4. But, knowing that not everyone will wear a mask, a “masked section” separated from the unmasked section will be available in all services.
  • Sunday School for all ages is planned for 10:00 to 10:50 A.M. Since not all classes or all teachers will feel safe being together in a classroom, some classes will combine with other classes as space permits.
  • Restrooms will be open throughout our buildings. Please limit the number of people in our restrooms to three at one time.
  • Offering plates will be available in both the Sanctuary and the Gym.
  • Church furniture will be sanitized between services. Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the entrance/exit doors of our facilities.
  • Everyone is advised to use their own discretion in deciding when to come back to church.
We are also planning a PARTIAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT ACTIVITY reopening on September 16th.   This will include activities and studies for all ages that normally meet at 6:30 P.M..     We’re hoping that September will be a turn-around month!   Hang in there and I look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible!


 I Love You, Garth