An Evans church will hold services today honoring its pastor and first lady for their 25 years of service to the congregation.
The Rev. Robert L. and Joyce Ramsey have led Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church on Furys Ferry Road since the minister was elected pastor in August 1982. The Ramseys will be honored during a 2 p.m. service at Gospel Water with a sermon by the Rev. Roscoe Perry, of First Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
Ramsey said he was called into the ministry at age 16 and served as a youth minister, church deacon, Sunday school teacher and choir president before joining the ministry.
"I was involved in all the activities in church as I possibly could," he said. "(It was) my way of bargaining with God not to preach. I wanted to serve him, but I didn't want to preach.
"I didn't think I was capable of such an awesome task as preaching, especially at my age. I stayed active in the church and I got to the point when God said, 'Now is the time.'"
The Thomson native started as pastor at Smith Grove Baptist, in Appling, in 1979. He was also pastor at Jones Grove and Popular Springs Baptist churches.
Ramsey, 52, was just 27 at the time he accepted the position at Gospel Water while simultaneously serving three other churches. That same month, his wife gave birth to the couple's second child, Tanika Nicole. They also have a son, Shaimarco Termel, and a grandson, Malik.
During his tenure at Gospel Water, the congregation built a new sanctuary, an education building and an elderly care ministry program. The 800-member church also went from services two Sundays a month to two services each Sunday, with plans for a third Sunday worship service each week.
Ramsey said he could not have reached the milestone without the support of his wife.
"I thank God for a loving, understanding and supportive wife," he said. "I don't see how I would survive without her."
Mrs. Ramsey, who leads Gospel Water's Mentor Ministry for youths, said the couple has been blessed to lead the church for so many years.
"It's been a long road, but all of it has been good," she said. "God has really blessed us and blessed the church as a whole for him to be here 25 years."
The pastor said he has baptized hundreds of people through the years, and takes pride in having baptized several generations within many families.
Of the nine pastors to serve Gospel Water in its 127 years in existence, Ramsey is second in tenure. He said one of his goals is to serve at least 42 years to be the longest-serving pastor.
Another aim is to continue to reach beyond the walls of the church to make a difference in the community, he said.
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