Published December 8, 2005
LAWRENCEVILLE — The North Metro First Baptist facility would not have held the number of people who attended Frank Cox’s 25th anniversary as pastor of the Lawrenceville church, so the Gwinnett Civic Center was the site of the grand celebration on Nov. 20th.
Following a reception for Frank and Mary Cox, an inspiring worship service followed featuring Jerry Falwell as the guest preacher. Falwell is pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. and chancellor of Liberty University.
The Lynchburg pastor, who is in his 50th year as pastor of Thomas Road, took Proverbs 29:18 as his text and challenged the congregation to follow the pastor’s God-given vision for the church. He proclaimed, “You are a privileged congregation. God has richly blessed you, but there is no reason to believe that God doesn’t have even greater plans for this church in the years ahead. Within the next 25 years there can be exponential growth.”
Falwell continued, “Metro Atlanta is a city unlike any other city in the world. North Metro could be the place where God will do extraordinary things. Your pastor is one of God’s giants. He deserves your followship. These first 25 years provide just a preview of what God wants to do in you and through you in the next 25 years.”
Mike Walker, North Metro’s deacon chairman, expressed appreciation for the pastor and stated, “In the past 25 years we have grown in membership from 649 to 5,161 and our Sunday School attendance has grown from 173 to 1,592 with a high attendance of 2,116. We baptized 14 in our pastor’s first year, but we have baptized 3,200 since then. We have also relocated the church on 55 acres of property and are now in our third building program.”
Georgia Baptist Convention’s Executive Director and North Metro member J. Robert White presided over the anniversary celebration and praised the pastor for his leadership, but reminded those in attendance that he was not without his faults, recalling the pastor’s embarrassing faux pas when he rammed into the back of a hearse in a funeral procession. White read excerpts from The Christian Index that reported the incident more than two years ago.
Dewitt Cox, the honoree’s father, professed that the younger Cox had been a good son and was a good man, a good preacher, a good leader, and a man who has always been committed to doing the right thing.
Friends chime in
A video of Baptist luminaries including Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue; Memphis, Tennessee’s Bellevue Baptist Church’s pastor, Steve Gaines; Jacksonville, Fla.’s First Baptist pastor, Jerry Vines; Woodstock First Baptist Church’s pastor, Johnny Hunt; and evangelists Bill Stafford and David Ring offered their congratulations to Frank and Mary Cox upon the occasion of the milestone anniversary.
Bill Head, the Gwinnett funeral director whose hearse Cox hit, made a cameo appearance in the video and stated, “Without a designated driver you cannot follow my hearse again.”
Danny Watters, GBC’s specialist in church-minister relations and longtime friend of Cox, also made an appearance in the video presentation. He was portrayed seated in the North Metro pastor’s study and rummaging through his desk. Watters picked up a pair of cufflinks and commented, “Junior Hill said that Frank probably wears these on his pajamas.”
Finding a small bottle in the desk drawer, Watters mischievously suggested, “This is probably healing oil from the ministry of Benny Hinn.”
Alvin Hobgood, North Metro’s executive minister for program administration, presented the pastor with an autographed baseball from former pitcher Dave Dravecky, a beautiful crystal memento of the occasion and a monetary gift from the church.
The anniversary celebration program reached a crescendo of seismic proportions near the end of the evening with a surprise appearance from the pastor’s musical idol, Elvis Presley, who leaped onto the stage with a white jump suit sparkling with rhinestones. When the applause finally subsided, a sudden burst of music filled the arena and Elvis dramatically gestured toward the elated pastor and broke into the familiar refrain, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog!”
Unfortunately, some pastors are treated like a hound dog, but it was a cuddly French poodle night for the Cox family.
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