Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today we are excited to introduce you to Billie Boyd-Cox.
Billie, tell us about your call to your present ministry.
At 10:02 p.m. on September 28, 2012, my life changed in an incredible way. Awaken by the buzzing of my cell phone, I stumbled out of bed to see if the number was recognizable. It was not, but I decided to answer anyway. The voice on the other end said, “Pastor Cox,” to which I responded “speaking.” The title did not catch me off guard. Over the years I have been referred to everything from minister to preacher to pastor. The next few words, however, blew me away. The callers (there were three of them) were members of the pastoral search committee from Macedonia Baptist Church in Conyers, Georgia. The church had met earlier that evening to select their new pastor. The committee members were calling to tell me that I had been chosen to lead them as their sixteenth (and first female) pastor in the church’s 139-year history.
Tell us more about your church and its ministries.
Macedonia like many other small churches was in significant decline in 2012 with only thirty-two active members when I arrived. The youngest member was fifty-nine years old and the oldest was 107. Roughly 98 percent of the members were retired or close to retirement age. The church is located on the corner of poverty and history. Our landmarks are railroad tracks, housing projects, liquor stores, boarding houses, and extended stay hotels. We sit in the shadows of historic downtown Conyers and are actually located in the historic district. We are a stone’s throw from a thriving economy that does not flow in our direction.
The neighborhoods surrounding Macedonia has low income tenant houses with streets lined with trash and overgrown lawns. Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors are things that would be nice to have but are unaffordable. The area is a holding pen for the underserved, uneducated, and unemployed with almost everyone dependent upon some form of governmental assistance for survival. Children are often left to their own devices and means of survival. If you drive through any of the various housing complexes, you will see children of various ages engaged in multiple activities without the slightest hint of adult supervision or adult visibility. Ours is a community walled in by inter-generational poverty, and it could be the proverbial poster child for poverty, if one were ever needed.
It is into this community that I have been called to lead and to serve. Now three years into the journey, we have grown significantly spiritually, financially, and physically. I often reflect on those years of my not understanding why God led me to and through the circumstances, situations, and places that I often referred to as the “valley of the shadow of death.” It was in these valleys that God taught me how to serve even in the midst of a crisis, such as the one that occurred for our church in January 2013 when four children who were members of Macedonia died in a house fire. This experience taught me to serve and lead from a place of emotional intelligence, a lesson well learned as I walked through the hallowed halls of McAfee School of Theology.
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
I have been inspired and mentored from afar by many powerful women of faith such as Bishop Carolyn James and Dr. Antoinette Griffin-Alvarado. I also had the short and wonderful delight of being mentored personally by the late Pastor Gwen Brown. From these legacy game changers, I’ve gleaned the importance of knowing that the God who called me has also equipped me to walk in this calling and that I am well able to do just that!
What is the best ministry advice given to you?
The best ministry advice I have received is to disconnect, unplug, rest, and reflect. I’m still working on living into that advice.