By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
WINNSBORO – In his 50 years of ministry, James Carson has pastored Baptist churches in Texas and Louisiana for 37 years.
But it’s the last 13 years as director of missions for the Tri-Association that have given Carson one of the greatest joys and fulfillments of his ministerial career.
“What a privilege and blessing it has been to meet so many wonderful people and to work with some of the finest pastors of our churches,” Carson said. “I still believe these three associations are the finest in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.”
After serving the churches in Caldwell, Deer Creek and Richland Baptist Associations since Feb. 1, 2002, Carson has felt led to retire from his position on Sept. 30. The reason, Carson said, is because after much prayer and thought he felt led by the Lord that now is the right time.
“I have been blessed beyond measure to have made lifelong relationships with so many people through these last 50 years of ministry,” he said.
To honor his time of service as director of missions, a reception is scheduled for Sept. 27 from 2 to 4 pm at the Temple Baptist Church Family Life Center in Winnsboro.
Keith Dowden, pastor of South Central Baptist Church in Wisner and chairman of the Tri-Association Mission Committee, said Carson has served as a friend and great support to the pastors in the three associations. He expects many of those Carson impacted will attend the reception.
“Brother James has been a friend and a great supporter to the pastors in the Tri Association,” Dowden said. “He has sought to be a director of missions for all the churches in the Tri Association. He has been a faithful servant for the Lord. His desire is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.”
During his time as director of missions, Carson helped the 75 churches in the three associations to become more involved in missions.
In 2006, he led the Tri-Association to adopt the Acts 1:8 model of doing missions. This approach involves spreading the gospel on the local, state, national and global level.
On the association level, Carson led the churches in Richland Association in the construction efforts to build a chapel for female inmates at Richland Detention Center and a structure for the Care and Share Ministry in Rayville to store food and clothing for needy families. He also led the churches in Caldwell Association to expand a similar ministry called Caldwell House of Hope.
The association also helped fund North American Mission Board missionaries in Connecticut, Maine and Utah, and helped financially support the Second Baptist Church of Laguna Gardens in Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil, to build a new church building.
Carson plans to return to the church in February, to preach at the dedication of the new church building, which includes the James Carson Sunday School Classroom that the members chose to name in honor of him. The trip will be his 11th consecutive year to preach in the country, with the past 10 spent as a member of the Louisiana Baptist Convention team that takes a mission trip each year to Brazil.
Carson also has been heavily involved in disaster relief efforts, serving in a variety of roles on the association, state and national level.
Under his leadership, the Tri-Association became the first chainsaw unit in Louisiana. The unit ministered in such disasters as Andrew, Ivan, Katrina, Rita, and Gustav to mention a few.
He also served as a disaster relief chaplain coordinator for Louisiana and received the Joel Phillips Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Mission Board Disaster Relief Ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention for his leadership in the disaster relief ministry as a chaplain coordinator.
Looking toward retirement, Carson plans includes enjoying his family, especially his two grandchildren, and to continue to serve and preach as God gives me opportunities.
“But”, he said, “all of this has been accomplished through the Tri-Association to the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Two of his life verses are Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
“That has been my heartbeat for over fifty years and shall continue to direct my paths of ministry in the years that are ahead until God calls me home.”