Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jason A. Smith
A newly retired pastor in Stockbridge said that during his tenure, God allowed his church to reach people locally and around the world.
"We just believe the Great Commission is to spread the gospel around the entire world," said Glenn Anderson, pastor emeritus at Liberty Baptist Tabernacle, located at 1410 Valley Hill Road. "Win souls, equip the saints and do the work of ministry, is what the Bible says. That's what we're trying to do."
Anderson retired as leader of his church on Sunday. The congregation honored him with a celebration Saturday, when an appreciation plaque was given to him by the new pastor, Matt Grimes. Anderson, 68, grew up on a farm in Glenwood, Ga., in the southern part of the state. He came to the Atlanta area after graduating from high school in 1960, and worked in an automobile-repair garage for 13 years.
The preacher said he was active in ministry efforts, including as a Sunday School teacher, while working in a secular occupation. His career path, however, shifted when he sensed God's call on his life. Anderson began attending Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1975, earning an associate's degree in biblical studies. In 1977, the then-college student discovered what would become his life's work, when he and seven Stockbridge families founded Liberty Baptist Tabernacle.
"We were the first Independent Baptist church in the Stockbridge area," said Anderson. "We started in the basement of a house. We were there for four months. Then, we bought five acres on Highway 138 in Stockbridge, where IHOP is now."
Gene Vaughn, 69, of Stockbridge, was among the church founders, who collectively called Anderson to serve as pastor. Vaughn, who has known Anderson for 40 years, said Anderson stood out to him as one who should be considered for the role. "I knew his character, and his dedication to the Lord," said Vaughn. "Knowing who he was, and what he stood for, I wanted him to be my pastor. His vision for the church was very impressive."
Anderson continued his college education while leading the church, receiving a bachelor's degree in biblical studies from the Baptist University of America in 1979. He later earned a master's degree and a doctorate, also in biblical studies, from Atlanta Baptist College.
The church, said Anderson, moved to its current location in the fall of 1981. Liberty Baptist now has 500-600 members, approximately 300 people of whom attend services regularly, he added.
Anderson said while he was leading his congregation, God laid a burden on his heart to provide an outlet for Christian education in the area. He started Atlanta Bible College, which was chartered in 1992 by the state of Georgia. "There was just a need in the area for Bible ministry training," Anderson said. "We offer degrees in several areas of Bible study, and Christian elementary education."
Liberty Baptist has also nurtured a growing number of missionaries, who are supported by the congregation. Anderson, who sits on the executive board of Macedonia World Baptist Missions in Braselton, describes his church's missions program as the "heartbeat" of its endeavors. "We have had seven missionaries called out of our church, and we support over 100 missionaries," he said. "We have given $4 million to missions during my ministry."
One church member, who was sent out by Liberty Baptist during Anderson's time as pastor, is Judy Joines, of Stockbridge. She and her late husband, Jim, conducted mission efforts in the Philippines from 1980 to 1987, and in Mexico, from 1989 to 2003.
Joines said Anderson has exhibited constant support for her efforts. "He's been a wonderful pastor," she said. "He's been there for us when we needed him."
Joines added that Anderson further displayed love for her and Christians in Mexico in 2003, when Jim Joines died as a result of a gas explosion in the country. The pastor, according to her, went to Mexico to let people know they "wouldn't be abandoned."
Anderson's wife of 47 years, Patsy, said she knew her husband would be involved in the ministry field even before he did. She is proud of what the retired pastor has accomplished, and said his commitment to God is evident in his life. "He's consistent," she said. "He's a man of real character and ethics. He's very principled, and believes in giving 150 percent. He always has."
Glenn Anderson hopes his devotion to God, and to mission efforts, will remain a staple of programs at Liberty Baptist. He plans to continue serving his congregation, as pastor emeritus, and to remain active in ministries at the church.