MERIDIAN — Current leadership
Dr. Raymon Leake was called as pastor in November of 1995. He came from First Baptist Church of Picayune and brought his wife, Gloria, and as the church history notes state: "one weeping teenager who said her daddy, 'has ruined my life.'"
Lee Yancey became youth minister, Rev. David Bishop became minister of music, Rev. Stan Davis was named minister of education, and a new church logo was introduced — all in 1996. During that time, Miriam Chesney began playing the church organ and Barry Germany began playing the piano for the church.
Under Dr. Leake's leadership, the church shifted the ministry from a "come to us" to a "go to where they are" and to "be doers of the Word and not hearers only."
The past 25 years of the church's outreach saw missionary trips to Haiti, Mexico, Dominican Republic, India, China, Holland, Zambia, Bolivia and a various locations in America. For more than 10 years, church volunteers have journeyed to Trinidad on construction, sports camps, evangelistic, and special season missions. The Mohess Road Baptist Church has been enlarged and the church supports several "housing churches" as well as other outreach and medical missions. Each fifth Sunday is devoted to the Trinidad Mission Project.
In 2002, Wayne Polk was called to be the church's Director of Outreach, Ministry and Discipleship. Polk was key to the church's missional approach. Polk left in 2006 to start a new church in Canton, Ga. He later returned in 2011.
Rev. Matt Snowden took over as Associate Pastor of the church in 2007. Snowden left in 2010 to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Waco, Texas.
Yancey was followed by Rev. Brad Smith in 2001 and later Rev. Jason Brooks in 2004. In January of 2007, Abby Dennis came on staff as the first Director of Children's Ministries, a move seen necessary by the increased number of young families in the church. When Brooks left in 2009, Dennis took on the added responsibility of the Youth. She left in 2013 to begin teaching public school. Benjy Linder was recently named as the church's new Student Minister.
In 2010, Mrs. Walter Rogers (Ellen) began ministry responsibilities at the church. They include grief-share sessions for the bereaved and English as a second language classes. She also provides different church counseling needs.
Dr. Leake has been pastor of First Baptist Church for 18 years. His family of five has grown since 1995. His three children have given he and his wife, Gloria, nine grandchildren.
Bro. David McCubbin, Ward Calhoun Sr. and Fredie Carmichael contributed to this report.