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LifeWay honors Black, Carmichael for leadership of smaller churches

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Max Carmichael was a meat cutter when God called him into the ministry. He cashed in his cleaver for seminary extension training and for the last 27 years has pastored Calvary Baptist Church in Leon, Iowa.

Paul E. Black took a 111-year-old church and infused new life into its people. Today, First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, N.C., is one of the most progressive in the Carolina Baptist Association.

LifeWay Christian Resources honored Carmichael and Black for their commitment and leadership by naming them “Outstanding Smaller Church Pastors of the Year.” Both men were honored during this summer’s “Leading in the Kingdom-Focused Church Week” sponsored by LifeWay and held at LifeWay Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers.

Henry Beck, director of missions for the Carolina Baptist Association, nominated Black for the honor. “When pastor Paul Black came to First Baptist of Saluda in March 1999, it was a church that could only be described as plateaued,” Beck recounted. “In its 111-year history, it had never had an extracurricular Bible study, a men’s or women’s retreat, nor had any of its members participated in a mission experience, either at home or abroad. Although First Baptist Saluda faithfully participated in the Cooperative Program, it was a church of little vision and low expectations. Since Pastor Paul’s arrival, First Baptist Saluda had experienced a Spirit-led renaissance and has become one of the more progressive small churches in the Carolina Baptist Association.”

Currently, the church averages about 70 in Sunday School and about 110 in worship.

Black also has provided solid leadership in administrative matters, according to Beck. Every year Black has been at the church, it has finished the year ahead of budget. The church also spent $45,000 upgrading its building and grounds, increased its overall missions giving and expanded its areas of ministry, all without incurring any debt.

Roger Graves, director of missions for Iowa’s South Central Baptist Association, nominated Carmichael for the award.

“For nearly 27 years, Max has loved the people, preached the Word, won the lost and developed over the years a strong base for ministry to the community,” Graves noted. “I believe that Max makes the case for what ‘Joe Layman’ in our churches could do by an increased role in starting and pastoring small congregations. From a meat cutter to a capable pastor, Max represents what God can do through an available life.”

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  • Polly House