I grew up in Louisville, Alabama (I’m from L.A.), a small town in South Alabama, where I learned to appreciate
good conversaton, nature, sports, family, hard work, the importance of education, church, and friendships.
I became a Christian at age ten and made a public commitment to ministry at age eleven.
As a senior in high school, I reaffirmed my calling to ministry and began accepting offers to preach. I preached at a country church during my freshman and sophomore years in college and baptized my first two converts to the Christian faith. Thankfully, none of those sermons have survived.
I left that church when I transferred to Samford University at the beginning of my junior year in college. I still found opportunities to preach through Samford’s “H-Day Program,” named for the school’s original name, Howard Collage.
After graduating from Samford, I married Tina, also from Louisville, and continued training for ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. There I completed my Master of Divinity with a concentration in pastoral care. I drove a school bus, worked at St. Matthews Baptist Church, and completed my first unit of Clinical Pastor Education (CPE) at Baptist Hospital East. Tina worked as an accountant for STM Development Company.
Tina and I moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Hartwell, Georgia in 1988 where I served First Baptist Church for 4 ½ years as Minister of Youth.
While there, I completed the requirements for the Doctor of Ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and gained more CPE units at Patrick Harris Psychiatric Hospital in Anderson, South Carolina.
I left there to pastor Clarkesville Baptist Church in Clarkesville, Georgia. After a 3 ½-year tenure, we moved to Moultrie, Georgia, where I began a thirteen-year ministry at Trinity Baptist Church. I left as the longest-serving pastor of the church.
During those years I held an adjunct professor position with Brewton-Parker College in Norman Park for five years. I was president of the Moultrie Rotary Club, president of Moss Farms Diving, and was a columnist for the Moultrie Observer for nine years, winning eight writing awards from The Amy Foundation.
I have written five books. The most recent is a children’s book and is available only on this website. The royalties from all the books are used to help the “Bricks For Ricks Foundation,” a foundation I established to build permanent dwellings out of earth block for people in places like Liberia. Currently, machines have been placed in Peru and in Liberia.
Recently, the foundation has been expanding its base of operation to be able to assist with food, water, and medicine. In 2016, a Mahindra tractor and implements were donated to Ricks Institute in Liberia.
Our older son served tours of duty in the Persian Gulf, Haiti, and Afghanistan in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in May 2014. John married Yami Avila, whom he dated in high school. In March of 2016, Mia Claire was born. In October 2020, Carolina Grace was born. Yami is a nurse. John is a paramedic/firefighter. He also owns a tree cutting business, Timberfalls.
Our younger son, Ryan, is a four-time state diving champion, a USA National Diving Champion, and an Academic/All-American diver at the University of Tennessee. In 2012, he won the one and three-meter SEC Championships. He married Alyssa Helms from Nashville, (yep, same last name), in December 2013. He completed his doctorate of physical therapy degree from UTC in Chattanooga in May 2016. Alyssa is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and the Veterinarian School at the University of Tennessee. They live in Christiansburg, VA. Ryan is is a physical therapist and Alyssa is doing a three-year residency at Virginia Tech.
I enjoy playing pickleball, turkey hunting, turning a lathe, and spending time with my wife. We especially like traveling together. We are having no problem adapting to our role as grandparents.
I recently retired from being of FBC Jefferson after eleven years and more than thirty years in pastoral ministry.
In 2013, I completed the fourth unit of advanced clinical pastoral education (CPE) at Northeast Georgia Medical Center with Dr. Jap Keith, a regional CPE director and I have continued to stay connected with the chaplain program at the hospital. I am now a BCCI Board Certified Chaplain.
I am also working as a pastoral counselor with Andrea Cook and Associates, Inc. in Gainesville.