Cannonsburg—First Baptist Church of Cannonsburg has been experiencing church revitalization under the pastoral leadership of Stan Williams. A key to Cannonsburg’s revitalization has been a pastor who loves the people enough—and is willing to stay with them long enough—to see a real church turnaround.
The term “Iron Man” was taken from the nickname given to Cal Ripken Jr., who appeared in 2,632 consecutive Major League baseball games. Ripken had broken the previous record set by Lou Gehrig, who appeared in 2,130 consecutive Major League baseball games.
Gehrig was given the nickname “Iron Horse,” and Ripen, after breaking his record, was given the nickname of “Iron Man.” The nickname relates to Ripken’s dedication to showing up day after day to fulfill his assigned mission.
Iron man-type leadership shows up day after day to carry out the assigned mission. Williams has proven himself to be an “iron man” at First Cannonsburg. He has been showing up day after day for the past 28 years—since the spring of 1987.
Two years prior to William’s arrival, the church went through an ugly split, which left the congregation with some real internal struggles. They were so disconnected that more than 100 church members would leave after Sunday School and not attend worship.
Since those days of struggle, the church has experienced steady progress toward revitalization. The church has benefitted from revitalization in almost every area, including spiritual and numerical growth. As a matter of fact, there is a building expansion currently underway to accommodate the new growth.
When asked to look back and share some of the steps he felt had led to the church’s revitalization, Williams shared:
1. God blessed a mission-minded church. Not only was the church committed to percentage giving to the Cooperative Program, but they also contributed to missions in other ways. Examples include the 20 to 30 buckets given annually for Baptist Global Response, involvement in local benevolence ministries, active participants in the Greenup Baptist Association, and collecting shoeboxes for Samaritan Purse’s ministry.
2. God blessed a traditional style of worship. Williams felt that a traditional style best fit the Cannonsburg community. His approach was to “use the culture in order to win the culture.”
3. God blessed an expository preaching style. Williams said, “I was determined to preach the word and leave the results to God.” The result has been a revitalized church family.
4. God blessed a spirit of cooperation. First Baptist is an active and cooperating member of the local association, along with the state and national conventions. Members of the church carry these labels with a sense of thankfulness.
5. God blessed a long-term pastorate. Williams said, “I have been at the church long enough to have been there at their births, at their baptisms, at their weddings, and the births of their children.” He added, “Because of my long stay at the church, there is a ‘trust factor,’ along with a ‘unity factor.’ We may disagree about some minor issues, but we are unified on the weightier things of Scripture.
“The long stay has not only allowed me to grow the church, but it has also allowed the church to grow me,” he continued. “Since selling everything that I owned, quitting my job, uprooting my family, attending Clear Creek Baptist Bible College 30 years ago, then coming to Cannonsburg 28 years ago, the church has been so gracious in growing up their own pastor.”
6. God blessed by giving the pastor a life verse. Williams’ life verse has been “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” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Paul Badgett, East Regional Consultant