Special to the News
As a young man playing professional golf, Pastor Jim Holmes never imagined he would pastor a church someday. However, the Lord had other plans, and Holmes, who has spent his career driving home the truth of the gospel instead of sending golf balls soaring through the air, was recognized for 20 years of ministry at Helen First Baptist Church on Sunday, June 28.
Holmes was not a follower of Christ during his formative years. Growing up in Aiken, South Carolina, he attended church, but viewed it as a ritual that held little personal meaning. However, while attending LSU on a golf scholarship, he met people who legitimately followed Jesus. He came to understand Christianity as being characterized by a personal relationship with Christ, and he committed his life to Christ at the age of 19.
After graduation, Holmes played on the PGA Tour and volunteered with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Crusade for Christ before being called into full-time ministry. He received his Master of Divinity degree in 1986 from Southeastern Baptist Seminary. He pastored churches in North Carolina and Georgia prior to accepting the call to become pastor of Helen First Baptist Church.
Holmes arrived in Helen with wife Mary and their four daughters in July 2000. By 2004, the congregation had outgrown its building, and the church relocated to its current location at 53 Edelweiss Strasse in Helen.
The past two decades have seen the church add to its membership and its ministries. In addition to biblical teaching and preaching, members regularly prepare meals for local residents and distribute free groceries on the third Saturday of each month. Holmes and others teach each week in the White County Detention Center, and the church’s missions ministry reaches out locally and around the world.
Although Holmes prefers to draw attention to Jesus rather than to himself, the culture of Helen First Baptist has been indelibly influenced by his own character and passions. Holmes’ biblically-centered preaching is highlighted by illustrations and by stories from his own faith journey. His care for children and teens led the church to devote time during each service to pray specifically for children. He introduced the church to international missions, leading a team to Kenya in September 2001 that began an ongoing ministry to that part of the world as well as to other locations. His concern for people who struggle with mental health issues and other life problems catalyzed the development of Northeast Georgia Christian Counseling, a nonprofit counseling center.
Holmes is a mentor as well as a leader. For the past decade, he has served as an adjunct professor at Truett McConnell University. For several years he has walked alongside interns from TMU in order to mentor these future pastors, teachers, and ministers personally. He also has served on multiple boards, including the Georgia Baptist Healthcare Foundation, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Committee, and the Board of Trustees at Truett McConnell University.
Much has changed in the lives of Jim and Mary Holmes during the past 20 years. But through all of the changes, they have been faithful servants to the Lord and to their congregation.