When Ed Yount said in May
that he was willing to serve a second term as president of the Baptist State
Convention of North Carolina (BSC) if messengers saw fit to elect him again in
November, “serve” was the most significant word in his announcement.
Yount, 55, serves North
Carolina Baptists with a glad and humble heart. Woodlawn Baptist Church in
Conover, which he has led as pastor since July 1993, expects him in the pulpit
on Sundays, but they are proud for him to serve the broader Baptist body.
“Woodlawn is one of the best
churches you could ever hope to have the privilege to serve,” Yount said of his
congregation in an interview in his small and unpretentious office. “I’ve been
blessed everywhere I’ve been with good people, but these people are
exceptional. They love Jesus, are missions minded and they love each other.”
Before being elected as BSC
president in November 2009, Young was first vice-president. He was on the BSC
Executive Committee and chaired the important Giving Plans Study Committee that
recommended a return to a single Cooperative Program giving plan. He has been a
trustee for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, and chairman of
the BSC Mission Growth Evangelism Committee.
He chaired the executive
director-treasurer installation committee for his friend and fellow area pastor
Milton A. Hollifield Jr. in 2006. He has been on the Fruitland Baptist Bible
Institute board, moderator of Catawba Valley Baptist Association and adjunct
religion instructor at Catawba Valley Community College.
And for the past 18 years,
he’s been doing it all from his hometown.
James Edwin Yount grew up in
nearby Hickory and attended the local Lenoir-Rhyne University. He also is an
MDiv graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a DMin grad from
His parents still live about
10 miles away and are members of his church.
Yount’s home church is
Temple Baptist in Hickory, where he was saved and where he met his wife. When
Tanya walked in as a Lenoir-Rhyne student, Yount took one look and “I just knew
she was the one.”
Yount had carried a card in
his wallet from age 16 on which he’d written the characteristics of the wife he
wanted. When Tanya walked into his sight, “I got the impression from God that
this was the woman I’d been praying for.”
Tanya too, is local, growing
up in the tiny town of Cranberry, near Wilkesboro. Yount was in community
college when they met, and they married within a year, on Aug. 18, 1979.
Yount worked several years
after high school in the textile plant his dad managed 50 years, and went to
school part time. Textiles are gone now and unemployment in Catawba County is
among the highest in the state.
Several years ago Woodlawn members voted to
give $500 to every church family in which the main breadwinner had lost his or
When Yount came to Woodlawn
the church was struggling with attendance of about 160 meeting in a new
auditorium built for unrealized growth that seated 900. Today two services have
a total attendance of 1,000.
“I’ve been part of something
the Lord has done and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch,” Yount said with
Despite the poor economy in
Catawba County, Woodlawn continues to plan for an enlarged future, buying the
abandoned Ford distributorship next door potentially for education and youth
space, and an administrative wing that will allow sanctuary expansion.
Surveying the possibilities,
Yount doesn’t see a county with a vanished jobs base and discouraged populace.
Instead he sees 50,000 unchurched people within five miles of his church,
Yount grew up expecting to
be a teacher and coach. At 6-6 he was an active high school athlete, but as a
college senior, “God began to press upon my heart the call to ministry.”
His first ministry role was
as youth minister at Central Baptist Church, where he worked and attended
Southeastern Seminary. He eventually was called to the ironically named
Millstone Baptist Church in Halifax, Va., where “very gracious people, loving
people” taught him how to be a pastor and let him make mistakes.
He then went as pastor to
Alexis Baptist Church in Gaston County. Hollifield was pastor of First Baptist
Stanley at the time and the churches joined hands to plant Lucia Baptist
After six and a half years
at Alexis, Yount was called to Cornerstone Baptist in Greensboro, a church
start out of Lawndale in Greensboro, where he saw significant growth in two and
a half years before returning to his home area and to Woodlawn.
Ed and Tanya’s children are
both involved in vocational ministry. Amber is married to Josh Benge, pastor of
Harris Chapel in Hudson. Eddie is pastor of Mount Hebron in Taylorsville.
Benge is the son of Alvin
Benge, one of Yount’s boyhood friends and deacon chair at Woodlawn. Ed and
Alvin’s moms worked together and later, Josh and Amber were born on the same
day at Fry Hospital.
“I’ve thanked God many times
for being able to minister in my home town,” Yount said.
Yount said he found his
first year as BSC president “extremely positive and very rewarding.”
Meeting people across the
state makes him “grateful to be a North Carolina Baptist,” he said. “We have
some committed men and women to the Lord Jesus. They love Him and serve Him.
I’ve seen a lot of that.”
Second, as so often happens,
full immersion into the extensive work North Carolina Baptists accomplish
together through ministries supported through the Cooperative Program has
revealed “the dynamic inner workings of the Convention.”
“The Baptist State
Convention has great staff,” Yount said. “They are men and women of excellence
and dedication. North Carolina Baptists can be very proud of the people who
serve us. They are a great resource to the local church.”
Few things have surprised
Yount during his first year in office. He’s always believed “North
Carolina Baptists were a people committed to Christ and to the Church and
that’s exactly what I’ve found.”
If re-elected Yount said he
wants to “be available” and to help in any way he can. He’s worked with South
Carolina President Fred Stone in meeting with next generation pastors from both
states. “They have a lot to offer” and share “an eagerness to serve” Yount
Unlike many wearied by
rigorous travel schedules, Yount said he finds his “kind of energizing.”
He exercises regularly on a
stationary bike each morning and tries to walk for a half hour most days. He
reads devotionally while on the bike.
Don’t ask Yount for the
inside scoop on any denominational controversy or for the skinny on any of the
He won’t be much help.
“I don’t hear a lot of stuff
because I just don’t do those kinds of things,” he said. “I do think it is a
time of transition for our Convention nationally. Anytime there is a refocusing
or transition time, there will be growth pains.”
Within North Carolina, Yount
said he “hears good vibes” wherever he goes and said people “are very