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First Baptist Church calls Scoggins for a second time

The Rev. Steve Scoggins preaches a trial sermon at First Baptist Church on Sunday after which the congregation voted overwhelmingly to call him as the pastor. The Rev. Steve Scoggins preaches a trial sermon at First Baptist Church on Sunday after which the congregation voted overwhelmingly to call him as the pastor.

The Rev. Steve Scoggins strode to the chancel of First Baptist Church and for the third time on Sunday morning greeted a sanctuary full of parishioners.

 

"Karen and I have never experienced such a warm welcome," he said. "Thank you so much."
It was not so much his reputation that had preceded him as it was his past.
On Sunday First Baptist Church members voted overwhelmingly to call the Rev. Scoggins as senior minister, 13 years after he left the downtown church for First Baptist Church of Opelika, Ala., where he led that city's flock and ministered to the Auburn University football team among other student groups at the campus seven miles away.
Like all good preachers, Scoggins put the congregation at ease by making them laugh.
"Some of you are wondering, Can he preach?" he said, "and some of you are wondering, Did he improve?"
Less a prodigal son than a favorite son, Scoggins went on to preach on humans' choice in a world filled with trouble and sin to walk alone or with the deliverer Jesus Christ.

Steve Scoggins
Native of Macon, Ga.
Graduated from Samford University Southwestern Baptist Seminary.
Began his ministry in the 1970s in a Christian rock band.
Married to Karen since 1977. Five children and eight grandchildren.
Has pastored churches in Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.
Over 25 years has developed a pattern of preaching through the New Testament on Sunday mornings and the Old Testament on Wednesday nights.
Holds regular "rabbit chasing" sessions to field questions about the Bible or religion.
Quote: "I occasionally play golf, but my game has not improved in 30 years!"

"God doesn't stop people from doing evil — because a sovereign God has chosen to give us humans some measure of free will," he said. "See, God does not want robots. He wants children" — and one worshiper had to shout "amen" at that.
Fifteen minutes into his message (Acts 26: 15-18), Scoggins confessed: "I've finally finished my introduction. In the eight minutes I've got left, let me see if I can give you a sermon."
Preach he did, arms outstretched one moment, his voice rising for emphasis, his brow furrowed at the mention of evil. Scoggins was beloved by longtime church members, including a number who have dropped off the roll since he left.
Although the church's "resident" membership is about 3,500, attendance averages about 1,300 for the three Sunday services.


'We found a suitable pastor'

An overflow crowd jammed the pews at the first service, at 8:30, as if the faithful wanted to see the premiere of Preacher Scoggins' trial sermon, not the 9:45 or 11:10 a.m. version.
"He loves to get up and do the duties of the usher," said Pastor Search Committee Co-chair Mark Williams, recalling Scoggins' joy amid a scramble to accommodate the crush of people. "He was running up and down the aisle helping people get seats, bringing out extra chairs. It was overflowing. I'm glad the fire marshal wasn't there."
At the end of the last service, Williams rose to tell the congregation that it was time to vote. A pastor selection committee "shall be elected to seek out a suitable pastor, and its recommendation will constitute a nomination," he said, reading from the church bylaws.
"Folks," he added, "we think we have found that suitable pastor."
It took only a few minutes to count the votes. By early afternoon, the First Baptist sign announced: "Welcome back!! Steve Scoggins. Our new pastor."
The pastor search committee, Williams said, wanted to nominate a minister who would sustain the church's emphasis on young families. And even though Scoggins is 13 ySteveScoggins2Steve Scoggins preaches at First Baptist Church.ears older than when he left — and all of the couple's five children are out of the house — the committee was impressed with Scoggins' connection to young families in the Opelika church and at Auburn, where he ministered to college students and shepherded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"He has been very successful reaching young people," Williams said. "The birth rate during the time he was there was huge."

Heart for the mountains

A native of Macon, Ga., Scoggins has a bachelor's degree from Samford University and a masters degree in divinity from Southwestern Baptist Seminary. He and Karen have five grown children and eight grandchildren.
When senior minister Ryan Pack announced he was leaving Hendersonville for a church in North Augusta, S.C., some First Baptist members thought first of Karen Scoggins, who was especially fond of Hendersonville. Her husband acknowledged as much in a letter to the congregation printed in Sunday's bulletin.
"There is a sense in which Karen's heart has never really left First Baptist Hendersonville or the mountains," he said.
Church members hope the church will see the kind of rebirth and growth during the minister's second act in Hendersonville that it saw during his first nine-year stint.
"Whenever he left, frankly we were at our peak," Williams said on Monday. "Obviously, lots of people that had been to church here before were there again yesterday. That's one reason I think it's going to grow pretty quickly."