Published December 11, 2014
FLOWERY BRANCH — Paul Wade was almost 76 years old in 2006 when he accepted the call to serve as associate pastor of Mount Salem Baptist Church in Flowery Branch. For the last three of those years he has worked with pastor Clyde Self, who refers to Wade as a north Georgia saint.
Jojo Thomas, missionary for the Chattahoochee Association, observed, “Every community has someone whose life and consistent service takes on a kind of special meaning. Paul Wade is one of those people in Hall County and northeast Georgia. No one could count the number of people whose lives have been touched by his ministry in our churches over the years. Every place he goes to serve, people just somehow start loving each other more, problems diminish, and people start turning to Jesus.”
On Nov. 2, Wade preached his last sermon as the church’s associate pastor and the church celebrated his retirement and 62 years of ministry.
Wade was born in Miller County near Colquitt, the Swamp Gravy capital of the world, on Oct. 11, 1930. He dropped out of school in the fifth grade to help his family on the farm. When he was old enough to leave home he joined the U.S. Navy.
After spending three years in the Navy, Wade came back to south Georgia and was introduced to a group of young adults who were active in the church. Through their influence he became a follower of Jesus Christ at age 20.
Wade became a part of Eastside Baptist Church in Cairo and gave evidence of being a passionate Christian. He faithfully invited others to church and boldly shared his faith.
The Miller County native made a commitment to the Gospel ministry and decided that he needed to pursue his education and earned his General Education Diploma (GED).
Eastside’s pastor, Lee Long, took Wade to Norman Park Baptist College where he was enrolled to pursue a course of studies in preparation for the ministry. He worked on the campus during his first year of study and was then called to be the pastor of Bessie Tift Baptist Church in Tifton.
The Tifton church’s policies mandated an annual call for its pastors and after that first year Wade decided not to accept the church’s call for a second year, and upon earning his associate’s degree became pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church in Cairo.
Wade met Mary Elizabeth Nobles from Danville in 1951 while a student at Norman Park. After five years of courtship they married and she immediately became an invaluable asset to his ministry. Self commented, “Paul Wade exemplifies how God intends for every man to love his wife.”
After serving as pastor at Long Branch for four years and teaching for a year in Moultrie’s public school system, Wade enrolled as a student at Mercer University and graduated in 1959. During his days at Mercer, Wade became pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Ashburn where he served for three years.
In 1961 the indomitable Georgia Baptist pastor accepted a call to serve Mt. Horeb Baptist Church in Collins, MS, a church near enough to New Orleans Seminary to allow him to continue his education.
Following his seminary education Wade served as pastor of Flowery Branch Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church in Griffin, Broadway (now Trinity) Baptist Church in Gainesville, and then back to Flowery Branch Baptist (now First Baptist Church of Flowery Branch) and Talmo Baptist Church. He also served several churches as interim pastor prior to his tenure at Mount Salem.
Two churches have honored him by naming him as their pastor emeritus and Grace Bible Institute of Zion Hill Baptist Church has awarded him with an honorary doctor’s degree.
Wade testified, “I have been so honored by the Lord to serve Him. When He called me to preach I knew I couldn’t do it in my own strength. However, God has provided the resources. God has been so faithful. It has been an incredible joy to pursue what God called me to do.”
Ed Sauls, a member at Mount Salem, stated, “Paul Wade has a humility and a meekness that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. He also has a courage that is not manifested in an aggressive behavior, but in a calm, peaceful manner. If someone wants to learn the true meaning of walking in a Christ-like manner, they could do no better than follow the example Paul Wade has set.”
‘Worthy of his vocation’
Harry Baird, minister of music at Mount Salem, exclaimed, “Paul always walks worthy of his vocation. He has been a major influence in my life; and always helps me stay focused on Jesus.”
Self added, “There is no greater honor than to serve alongside such a man of character, passion, and love. His passion for sharing the good news of Jesus spills out everywhere he goes.
“I observed one day that someone called his cell phone by mistake. Brother Paul answered the phone and before he hung up he was asking the person who called if he knew Jesus.”
Wade has not only served churches in Georgia and Mississippi, but has taught in Mercer’s extension center in Griffin, trained pastors in how to have a revival, and conducted evangelistic crusades in Alaska and Australia.
In reminiscing on his life and ministry Wade pointed to the Sunday when as pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church he baptized 29 people in the Ochlockonee River.
The Wades have two daughters, Mary Huffman and Paula McElveen, two grandsons, and one great-granddaughter.
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