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First Baptist pastor celebrates 25 years of service
The Rev. Isaac Whitehead, right, of First Baptist Church, meets with the Rev. W.L. Whelchel prior to St. Paul United Methodist Church’s Wednesday evening revival service. Whitehead was the evening’s visiting pastor.

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By: Kristen Morales

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A silver anniversary: A Celebration
of 25 Years of Ministry
When: 5 p.m. July 10
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 S. Main St., Gainesville
How much: $20 for adults, $10 for children
More info: Gala Sheats, 770-561-4562 or Pamela Randolph, 678-858-7056

For the Rev. Isaac Whitehead, 25 years in the ministry and 13 years at First Baptist Church in Gainesville just doesn’t seem possible.

"It’s quite a milestone, and I guess I’ve been having fun because it doesn’t seem anywhere near that long," Whitehead said. "It’s really kind of a humbling experience to reach that level. That God would even consider you in the first place and then to serve for that length of time, it’s not something I take for granted or take lightly. I’m just grateful that people appreciate what God has done through me."

Whitehead was ordained at Ebeneezer Baptist Church West in Atlanta and previously served at a church in Elberton. He has preached at many special services, revivals and also has served as the president of Interdenominational Black Ministers Association.

The IBMA, based in Gainesville, is a 50-member organization that provides an outlet each month for the church leaders to come together and do even more.

Whitehead said during the past 25 years he has grown as a person and as a pastor.

"I personally have grown, but I think in dealing with people, sometimes people may doubt it, but I think I’ve gotten a little more tolerant with people and more understanding," he said. "In the beginning there was a lot of anxiety and worry, stress, and I think because when you first start out in something like this that you need to save the whole world and you need to do it now."

So after years of service to the Gainesville community, the members of First Baptist will celebrate with Whitehead on July 10 with a dinner and special program at the Georgia Mountains Center.

The church members created the 25 Year Committee and put together the celebration event.

"Our emcee is going to be Lady B — she is from The Light WXAG 1470-AM," said Pamela King, a member of the 25 Year Committee. "We’re going to have the Rev. Dr. Clarence Moore to be the speaker; he preached at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Augusta. We will have the Norman Brothers, Larina Poe and the First Baptist Church mass choir, which will be the church and the community."

King, a member for 10 years, said she just enjoys the kind of pastor Whitehead has been over the years.

"...The way he teaches, he’s smart, he’s a people person and he really knows how to relay the message of God to the people," she said.

The Rev. W.L. Whelchel, a longtime pastor and mentor to Whitehead since the 1970s, pastored at a Methodist church in Elberton when Whitehead was getting started in the ministry.

"Whitehead is a great pastor and I’ve seen him grow in his pastoral career," Whelchel said. "He’s a great lover of people and a fine man. I’ve seen him grow in the ministry ... I admire him a whole lot."

Whelchel, who recently retired after serving five churches in 48 years, said Whitehead also is an inspiration to other pastors.

"He’s a lover of preachers, which is needed," he said. "Preachers themselves need help and direction."

Whitehead said he is excited to see what the future holds at First Baptist.

"I enjoy what I do; it’s been a great experience," he said. "Of course there have been ups and downs, but I enjoy it and I don’t anticipate leaving any time soon. But on the other hand, God could call me tomorrow."

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