December 16, 2009 EditionAlso in this issue...
Baldwins plan move
Monroe and Tammy Baldwin, who have been serving at Alicia Baptist Church for six years, are planning the next leg of their journey, which they believe will lead them to Virginia. TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Monroe Baldwin said he fought the call to the ministry for many years before beginning the path that led him to the town of Alicia and service as pastor of Alicia Baptist Church.
Now, after six years, he and his wife, Tammy, are hearing that call again, and Monroe said that he was angry at first.
"I wanted a couple more years," he said of his service at Alicia.
Monroe said he quickly realized that God's will and not his own is what is important.
"I told the church I would leave one of two ways - when God called me away or at my funeral," Monroe said. "If we stay now, what God has planned next will not happen."
Monroe said he recently preached a sermon on interruptions. He was discussing the interruption that occurred in the lives of Mary and Joseph when they learned that Mary would be the mother of Jesus.
"Both had fear, but because they were obedient and followed through, God blessed them," he said.
Monroe said similarly he and his wife are now experiencing an interruption and not one that is necessarily comfortable.
"I wasn't looking to leave," Monroe said. "I'm trusting the Lord, step by step. We learn in the Bible that God says 'Go.' He didn't say you would be comfortable or he would show you the whole path."
Monroe first answered the call to preach while a student at Williams Baptist College. His first church was New Providence Baptist Church in Buckeye, which is located in extreme Northeast Arkansas.
After serving there for approximately 18 months, he became pastor at Alicia Baptist in February of 2004. He and his wife both graduated from WBC in May of 2005 with bachelor's degrees in psychology.
Monroe said a friend he graduated with left and went to Chicago, but that he did not feel like it was the right time for him to leave Alicia.
"I was invited to be a part of a drug recovery ministry," he said. "I said no, but God said yes."
He took over directorship of the drug recovery ministry through the Black River Baptist Association, and began holding meetings at Alicia. In July of 2005, he began leading his first series called "The Highway." Since then they have also offered a program called "Celebrate Recovery" and now offer "Check Your Baggage" and a program created by Monroe.
"We've seen a lot of people come through who have made a profession of faith and have made a difference in their lives," Tammy said. "We've seen a lot of individual's lives changed by the power of Jesus."
More than 140 individuals have been baptized at Alicia Baptist over the past six years, but both Monroe and Tammy are quick to give credit where they feel it belongs.
"We didn't do what happened in Alicia, God did," Tammy said.
In addition to the drug recovery program, Alicia Baptist has provided service to the community through a food pantry and a community ministry fund that has bought gifts, paid bills, helped with home repairs and more.
The church was also a mission project for others who came together to help construct a new sanctuary.
Monroe said the interruption in their lives has also caused an interruption in the church's life, but he knows great things lie ahead for the congregation.
"The church has a great adventure ahead and a great hope," he said. "I know God has great things in store for Alicia."
In addition to leaving their church family, the Baldwins will be leaving two of their children in Lawrence County, as well.
Their oldest daughter, Kristen, 22, is married to Adam Green of Alicia, and their other daughter, Jessica, 18, is a student at WBC. Adam and Kristen serve as worship leaders at Alicia Baptist, and Jessica is the children's director for ages four to 12.
They also have a son, Dylan, who is nine.
While at Alicia, Monroe and Tammy have each completed their master's degrees. Tammy finished her master's degree in family psychology and mental health at UAMS recently and will set for her boards in February.
Monroe earned a master of arts in religion and a master's of divinity from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in 2008. He is currently in the doctoral program at Liberty seeking a doctorate of ministry.
Tammy said right now they feel that God is leading them toward Virginia, where she could also earn her doctorate degree in philosophy of counseling.
"This gives the biblical counseling approach," she said.
Tammy also surrendered to the call to ministry, about a year after Monroe, and she said she believes that line of study will help her in her ministry.
"We have been blessed because Tammy and I are in ministry together," Monroe said.
Now, as they prepare for their move, the Baldwins are planning to sell as many of their belongings as possible. Tammy said they do not have the capability of taking all their possessions, and the money made will help them as they begin the next phase of their ministry.
To faciliate this, they will hold a yard sale Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m., and Friday and Saturday, beginning at 8, inside the parsonage, which is located at 160 Vine in Alicia.
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