History of Baptist Village

The growth of Baptist Village from facilities accommodating five residents to facilities in three locations providing retirement living for over six hundred senior adults shows the continued commitment of Georgia Baptists to minister to the needs of God’s “older children.” The vision of Baptist Village Retirement Communities continues to be Serving God by Providing Excellence in Retirement Living.

In April 1958 the first five residents came to live on the Waycross campus

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board meeting in annual session in Columbus in 1953 approved a recommendation to appoint a committee to study the needs and possibility of developing a ministry to older adults. The Convention meeting in Augusta 1954 approved a recommendation from the Convention’s Executive Committee that a ministry be started with its primary focus to provide housing for senior adults. After consideration of several locations Waycross, Georgia was selected. In January 1955, Dr. Harvey R. Mitchell was employed as Administrator of Baptist Village, a position he held until January 1, 1980. Upon Dr. Mitchell’s resignation for health reasons the Board of Trustees appointed Mr. J. Olan Jones (a part of the Baptist Village staff since 1968) as Administrator, a position he held until the Board of Trustees named him President/CEO in 1996.

Construction on the first housing units was begun in 1957 and completed in 1958. In April 1958 the first five residents came to live on the Waycross campus. These residents occupied the new apartments referred to as the C Unit. Around 1960 the second apartment complex unit known as the A Unit was constructed. The building of the B Unit apartments, the administrative, Residents’ Service Center, and the first phase of the nursing center followed in 1964. In 1974 an Intermediate Care Unit and the Chapel were completed. The Corporate Office Building, the Apartment Resident Center, new kitchen for the nursing center, resident services area, and gift shop were completed in 1986.

The expansion of the ministry of Baptist Village continued into the 1990s. During this decade independent living facilities known as The Villas were built on the Waycross campus as well as an Assisted Living building known as Village Lake Suites. In 1996 Baptist Village Retirement Communities acquired an assisted living facility in Lake Park, Georgia. In 1999 independent living facilities named The Plantation Villas were constructed in Macon.

The dawning of a new millennium, 2000, saw the addition of the Village Lake Pavilion on the Waycross campus. Plantation Suites, an assisted living facility, was constructed in Macon and opened in 2001. In 2002 a new health center replaced the existing health center on the Waycross campus and was named for Mr. J. Olan Jones, the President and CEO of Baptist Village Retirement Communities, in honor of his thirty-six years of service to Baptist Village.

In October of 2003 the Trustees unanimously elected Mr. Delos L. Sharpton, Executive Vice-President of Baptist Village, to become the next President/CEO of Baptist Village. He was elected to serve a transition period until the retirement of J. Olan Jones on December 31, 2004. Mr. Sharpton assumed the President/CEO position January 1, 2005 and served Baptist Village in that capacity until January 2020.

During Mr. Sharpton’s fifteen years of leadership Baptist Village rose from its most challenging financial and healthcare industry challenges to its strongest position in the six-decade history of the ministry/business. From 2005 through 2019, Baptist Village was awarded more than $1 million in grants and instituted strong fiduciary strategies that enabled the organization to become an exemplary leader in stewardship responsibility. During those same years, Baptist Village continued to carry on the vision of “Serving God by Providing Excellence in Retirement Living.”

Dr. J. Eric Mathison was named Vice President of Administration & Advancement in July of 2015 and was later named Executive Vice President. In October 2019, upon the announcement of Mr. Sharpton’s planned retirement, the Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Mathison to be the next President/CEO of Baptist Village. Mr. Sharpton retired on January 3, 2020, and Dr. Mathison assumed the position of President/CEO.

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