Albertville’s Raymond Cook reflects on years as pastorcomment (1)
June 29, 2006
By Sammie Jo Barstow
After celebrating 50 years as pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, Albertville, in Marshall Baptist Association, Raymond Cook’s greatest delight is still “living close to the Lord” and “working in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Cook declines to give his age, saying that his wife, Polly, always said that anyone who would tell his age or weight would tell anything.
But his age, no matter what it is, doesn’t seem to restrict his ministry at all. He stays busy preaching and tending to his flock.
Cook, a native of Georgia, was married with two young sons when he became a Christian in February 1944. He soon sensed God’s call to ministry and preached his first sermon in December of that year. After that, he said he “would preach in prayer meetings, in people’s back yards — anywhere I could get a chance, I’d preach.” He was ordained in 1947 and became pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church, Cedartown, Ga.
After brief stints at several churches in Georgia and Alabama in the early years of his ministry, Antioch Baptist called Cook as its pastor. Fifty years later, he said God has never released him to go anywhere else. “You don’t find the kind of people everywhere that we have here,” he said about the church.
For several years, people were being saved and joining the church every Sunday. A new building was constructed in 1962 and paid off in six years. The church currently has approximately 200 in attendance for Sunday morning worship and maintains a full schedule of missions programs.
Cook has a passion for lost people that has grown stronger over the years. He preaches at least one revival each month. “The church here, when I go off to a meeting and come back telling about the people who were saved, they know they had a part in it,” he said.
Cook has witnessed many changes over the years in his life and ministry. His wife died six years ago. “I had buried people for over 50 years, and, really, I knew nothing about what it was like until my wife died,” he said.
Randall Stoner, director of missions for Marshall Association, said Cook’s devotion to his wife was obvious. He also cited Cook’s favorite quote, “It’s never wrong to do what’s right.”
“In a world where people frequently say the end justifies the means, that’s not [Cook’s] world,” Stoner said.
Cook sees total dedication to the Lord’s work as one of the biggest assets of today’s pastors. “Pastors go through rough times, and I’ve found that if we lean completely on the Lord, there’s always an answer.”
Cook said he has truly enjoyed living for God.
“There have been highs and lows, but there’s never been any offs and ons,” he said. “When I got in, I didn’t get in to get out.”