Often the question comes, “Just what is Baptist Village?” Because Baptist Village has been around for more than fifty years many know the name but are unsure of the identity. The answer to the question of identity is not simplistic but it is simple. Baptist Village is an agency of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. In 1953 the Georgia Baptist Convention created a committee which was assigned the task of investigating the need and possibilities of some ministry to senior adults. Ultimately, the committee demonstrated the need and set the course. Baptist Village became a child of the Convention. An agency is an affiliate, a partner. Thus Baptist Village became a partner with the Convention charged with the task of serving the needs of seniors. In 1958 the first residents moved to the Waycross, Georgia campus.
A board of Trustees elected by the Convention governs Baptist Village. These Trustees give direction to the work of Baptist Village and hold its assets and ministry in trust on behalf of all Georgia Baptists. Baptist Village receives financial, spiritual, and emotional support from Georgia Baptists and offers to all Georgians like support.
Baptist Village is a physical expression of a spiritual conviction. The inspiration that propelled the creation of Baptist Village comes from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 21 the resurrected Lord appears to Simon Peter and other disciples by the Sea of Galilee. Peter, the leader of the infant church in those days, seems to be somewhat unsure of his future. Jesus asks, “Simon, do you love me?”
Of course, Peter, remembering his denial on the night of the passion, responds tentatively, “Lord, you know I love you.” This goes on three times. Each time Jesus gives counsel to Peter. That counsel is, “Tend my sheep.” The implication is clear. If we love Jesus, we are to care for His followers.
Baptist Village is the physical expression of that spiritual conviction. As a result of this conviction of Georgia Baptists, a skilled nursing facility is available in Waycross, and personal care homes and independent living villas for seniors are available in Waycross and Macon.
Ultimately all this means that Baptist Village is a ministry. There is much confusion about the word “ministry.” So many things are called ministry today. Governments use the word ministry to describe a department or a cabinet. Sometimes the word is used to describe a person through whom something is accomplished. Sometimes the word is used to describe the activities of a clergy person. The word is applied to all sorts of activities from music, to youth, to children, to education, etc.
Baptist Village chooses to use the word ministry not so much as a noun but as a verb. Ministry is not something we are. It is something we do. In Acts 6 the New Testament church faces the issue of neglected seniors. In that situation the Apostles determined that laymen should take care of the neglected seniors. It is interesting that the word service, task, and minister are used almost interchangeably. There seem to be two forms of doing ministry. One is preaching and teaching while the other is taking care of people. Clearly, those who follow Jesus have two obligations. One is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The other is to care for the followers of Jesus Christ. Baptist Village is the ministry of caring.