By SHERRY DIGMON
Last year, Kevin Garrett was called as pastor of Atmore First Baptist Church. He was called by the congregation, but more importantly, he was called by God.
(Most folks refer to him as Pastor Kevin. He has an easy-going manner that makes “the Reverend” reference seem a little formal.)
Pastor Kevin’s home is Gadsden. He began his college education at Auburn but left architectural school there to go to the music program at Jacksonville State. That was where he was headed – a career in music.
He got married with three semesters left in college.
And then, he felt a calling to the ministry, but he didn’t respond to that right away. Finally, he told his wife Tina he felt led to the ministry. She knew it before he did and was waiting for him to realize it – and accept it.
His first church was Paden Baptist Church in Gadsden. This is the church his grandparents attended and the church his dad grew up in.
Pastor Kevin has a picture of his mother holding him – a baby – in her arms in front of Paden Baptist Church.
“They were very tolerant of me and my mistakes,” Pastor Kevin said.
He was not the pastor of the church; he was, as he said, “doing the music.” It was the first of many positions in music – and later youth – in several churches.
In Dothan, he was the youth pastor and music director at Kimsey Baptist, then at First Baptist in Oxford.
He served as administrator with Breakaway Ministries in Gadsden before taking a position at Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston with youth and recreation. While at Parker, he received his Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, then moved from youth and recreation at Parker to Associate Pastor in education and outreach.
He accepted the pastor’s position at Cove Creek Baptist in Glencoe, Ala. It was a small church but it was a step up in position.
And now to Atmore First Baptist Church. He became pastor in November 2018.
“I felt 100 percent called here, and it’s affirmed daily,” he said.
Pastor Kevin is interested in Atmore’s revitalization and wants FBC to be part of that. The church is now a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He has participated in some Chamber events and has toured the Strand to learn about the plans for the theater’s restoration.
“We need to be a team,” he said of the Chamber and the revitalization efforts going on in the city.
For Pastor Kevin, it’s about relationships – within the church, with the church and the city, with those who might be looking for a church home.
A visitor told him recently that First Baptist was friendly and welcoming. He liked hearing that.
What does he like best at First Baptist?
“I appreciate the congregation’s willingness to adapt at this moment,” he said. “People have not buckled against anything I’ve tried.”
Pastor Kevin and Tina have two sons. Geoffrey, 27, lives in Gadsden. Nelson, 25, and his wife Brooke live in Sylacauga.
He is currently working on a Doctorate in Ministry through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.