"My mentor and pastor, Mike Franklin is teaching me how to love people unconditionally," said Stutes. "Mike has had a vision for years to reach men in this community by leading them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to provide a place for these men to stay, to feed them, and to provide clothes for them. He has a heart for people who are having a hard time. We want to build structure in their lives and let them know that God loves them."
SRBC opened RockMart, a faith based thrift store on U.S. Highway 278. Items for sale include clothes, appliances, furniture of all kinds, tools, fishing gear, knick-knacks, books, toys and bed linens. Proceeds will provide funds for Petra. With the economic down-turn, homeless numbers are rising and people are living in cars, under bridges and in the woods. The ministry's goal is to meet people where they are in order to lead them to Jesus. They recently opened their arms to a man who had been living in the woods for two weeks with only a plastic covering for shelter.
The men will be given an opportunity to learn how to complete job applications and will acquire skills and work ethics while helping out at RockMart.
Solid Rock Baptist Church provides food assistance to disadvantaged, disabled and seniors through the Solid Rock Willing Helpers Ministry, offers healthcare assistance to those who qualify through the Willing Helpers Medical Clinic and is working with Eastridge Community Church to become a certified Celebrate Recovery location to hold classes on Monday evening.
Stutes was born into a musical family. He started playing the guitar when he was five years old and excelled in athletics. Stutes married Pauline Lofton in 1981. Her grandmother Cora Lofton shared the gospel with Stutes, and he accepted Christ on April 26, 1982. The Stutes have two children, Natalie Marie Burch and Jennifer Lynn Taylor. In 1996, the family began singing and traveling together.
In 1990, while working for Atlanta Gas Light, Stutes was injured in an explosion when a gas line ruptured. He suffered second degree burns on his face and in his nasal passage and third degree burns on his arms, hands and fingers. During this time, Stutes said the Lord dealt with him and he recommitted his life to Christ during a service at East Newton Baptist Church.
Stutes served as youth minister at SRBC from 1999 to 2001 and was licensed and ordained by Senior Pastor Mike Franklin. He was called as associate pastor at Living Word Baptist Church in Athens for two and one-half years and for the next two years as pastor for Central Baptist Church in Athens until he returned to SRBC in September 2008.
Stutes is always looking for an opportunity to share his faith. In addition to his duties, he enjoys organizing fundraisers, serving as umpire, working in the thrift store or researching music for the Sunday morning service. He has written "The Gospel Christmas," a program to be presented on December 13.
Solid Rock's band and eight-member praise team refer to their blended style of worship as "Solid Rock Music" which includes southern gospel and contemporary songs. Stutes hopes to expand the choir to 25 members by the first of the year.
SRBC is looking for community volunteers who will give cash donations, sort clothes, help keep the store organized, sort through donated items, help clean and repair furniture, appliances, and electronics and donate good used items.
Solid Rock Baptist Church is located at 8111 Brown Bridge Road. For more information call Stutes at (770) 784-0982, extension 12 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.