Ed Yount offers second year to N.C. Baptists
    August 10 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    When Ed Yount said in May that he was willing to serve a second term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) if messengers saw fit to elect him again in November, “serve” was the most significant word in his announcement.

    Yount, 55, serves North Carolina Baptists with a glad and humble heart. Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover, which he has led as pastor since July 1993, expects him in the pulpit on Sundays, but they are proud for him to serve the broader Baptist body.

    “Woodlawn is one of the best churches you could ever hope to have the privilege to serve,” Yount said of his congregation in an interview in his small and unpretentious office. “I’ve been blessed everywhere I’ve been with good people, but these people are exceptional. They love Jesus, are missions minded and they love each other.”

    Before being elected as BSC president in November 2009, Young was first vice-president. He was on the BSC Executive Committee and chaired the important Giving Plans Study Committee that recommended a return to a single Cooperative Program giving plan. He has been a trustee for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, and chairman of the BSC Mission Growth Evangelism Committee.

    He chaired the executive director-treasurer installation committee for his friend and fellow area pastor Milton A. Hollifield Jr. in 2006. He has been on the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute board, moderator of Catawba Valley Baptist Association and adjunct religion instructor at Catawba Valley Community College.

    And for the past 18 years, he’s been doing it all from his hometown.

    James Edwin Yount grew up in nearby Hickory and attended the local Lenoir-Rhyne University. He also is an MDiv graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a DMin grad from Southern Seminary. His parents still live about 10 miles away and are members of his church.

    Yount’s home church is Temple Baptist in Hickory, where he was saved and where he met his wife. When Tanya walked in as a Lenoir-Rhyne student, Yount took one look and “I just knew she was the one.”

    Yount had carried a card in his wallet from age 16 on which he’d written the characteristics of the wife he wanted. When Tanya walked into his sight, “I got the impression from God that this was the woman I’d been praying for.”

    Tanya too, is local, growing up in the tiny town of Cranberry, near Wilkesboro. Yount was in community college when they met, and they married within a year, on Aug. 18, 1979.

    Yount worked several years after high school in the textile plant his dad managed 50 years, and went to school part time. Textiles are gone now and unemployment in Catawba County is among the highest in the state.

    Several years ago Woodlawn members voted to give $500 to every church family in which the main breadwinner had lost his or her job.  

    Growing pains
    When Yount came to Woodlawn the church was struggling with attendance of about 160 meeting in a new auditorium built for unrealized growth that seated 900. Today two services have a total attendance of 1,000.

    “I’ve been part of something the Lord has done and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch,” Yount said with typical humility.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Ed Yount

    Despite the poor economy in Catawba County, Woodlawn continues to plan for an enlarged future, buying the abandoned Ford distributorship next door potentially for education and youth space, and an administrative wing that will allow sanctuary expansion.

    Surveying the possibilities, Yount doesn’t see a county with a vanished jobs base and discouraged populace. Instead he sees 50,000 unchurched people within five miles of his church, Yount grew up expecting to be a teacher and coach. At 6-6 he was an active high school athlete, but as a college senior, “God began to press upon my heart the call to ministry.”

    His first ministry role was as youth minister at Central Baptist Church, where he worked and attended Southeastern Seminary. He eventually was called to the ironically named Millstone Baptist Church in Halifax, Va., where “very gracious people, loving people” taught him how to be a pastor and let him make mistakes.

    He then went as pastor to Alexis Baptist Church in Gaston County. Hollifield was pastor of First Baptist Stanley at the time and the churches joined hands to plant Lucia Baptist Church.

    After six and a half years at Alexis, Yount was called to Cornerstone Baptist in Greensboro, a church start out of Lawndale in Greensboro, where he saw significant growth in two and a half years before returning to his home area and to Woodlawn.

    Ed and Tanya’s children are both involved in vocational ministry. Amber is married to Josh Benge, pastor of Harris Chapel in Hudson. Eddie is pastor of Mount Hebron in Taylorsville.

    Benge is the son of Alvin Benge, one of Yount’s boyhood friends and deacon chair at Woodlawn. Ed and Alvin’s moms worked together and later, Josh and Amber were born on the same day at Fry Hospital.

    “I’ve thanked God many times for being able to minister in my home town,” Yount said.  

    Service rewarding
    Yount said he found his first year as BSC president “extremely positive and very rewarding.”

    Meeting people across the state makes him “grateful to be a North Carolina Baptist,” he said. “We have some committed men and women to the Lord Jesus. They love Him and serve Him. I’ve seen a lot of that.”

    Second, as so often happens, full immersion into the extensive work North Carolina Baptists accomplish together through ministries supported through the Cooperative Program has revealed “the dynamic inner workings of the Convention.”

    “The Baptist State Convention has great staff,” Yount said. “They are men and women of excellence and dedication. North Carolina Baptists can be very proud of the people who serve us. They are a great resource to the local church.”

    Few things have surprised Yount during his first year in office. He’s always believed “North Carolina Baptists were a people committed to Christ and to the Church and that’s exactly what I’ve found.”

    If re-elected Yount said he wants to “be available” and to help in any way he can. He’s worked with South Carolina President Fred Stone in meeting with next generation pastors from both states. “They have a lot to offer” and share “an eagerness to serve” Yount said.

    Unlike many wearied by rigorous travel schedules, Yount said he finds his “kind of energizing.”

    He exercises regularly on a stationary bike each morning and tries to walk for a half hour most days. He reads devotionally while on the bike.

    Don’t ask Yount for the inside scoop on any denominational controversy or for the skinny on any of the players.

    He won’t be much help.

    “I don’t hear a lot of stuff because I just don’t do those kinds of things,” he said. “I do think it is a time of transition for our Convention nationally. Anytime there is a refocusing or transition time, there will be growth pains.”

    Within North Carolina, Yount said he “hears good vibes” wherever he goes and said people “are very positive.”
    8/10/2010 9:30:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

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