Newly installed Pastor Billie Cox of Macedonia Baptist Church in Conyers is keen on announcing that there's a girl in the pulpit and invites the community to come experience the difference.
"It is very much different," said Cox. "Just as women and men are different - our styles are different, the way that we love the people and nurture the people. Emotionally it's different because I'm not afraid to allow a tear to fall if it's a tearful moment. For women, it's OK to show our passion and compassion for people where men will be more reserved. I'm not constrained like that. I've always loved on people."
"We are truly excited," said Macedonia Baptist Deacon Randolph Jones. "I have never seen the people fully energized about a new pastor and heading into a new direction."
Previously an associate pastor at Bethlehem Baptist in Covington and then the director of Christian ministries at Springfield Baptist in Conyers, Cox is now making history as the first female pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, located at 1052 Barton Street, Conyers. The church will celebrate its 140 year history this October.
Cox was officially installed on Feb. 24, with the service held at Springfield Baptist Church to accommodate the anticipated crowd. Pastors from Bethlehem Baptist, Springfield and Macedonia gathered with congregants and supporters in a day of blessing.
"Won't you exalt her, God, in ways that all of us never saw coming," prayed Springfield Pastor Eric Lee. "Blow our minds once again, and we will be careful to give you all the glory and the honor and the praise. Use her to unify your church, to unify this community. Use her to unify new members and old members, historic members and those who just got there."
Cox thanked her church families and own family. She described her role as that of a change agent. "That's exactly what I intend to do with the love, mercy and grace of God," she said.
Cox was called to serve at Macedonia Baptist on Sept. 28, 2012 and officially began her duties as pastor-elect of Macedonia on Oct. 8, 2012.
Deacon Jones said the process of selecting Pastor Cox to serve at Macedonia involved speaking with the congregation regularly, as well as praying, fasting and reading the Scripture to make sure they were headed in the right direction.
"We wanted a pastor...and I've said this to her, ‘We want you to pastor the church, not the church to pastor you.' So far, up to this point, she has done a wonderful job of pastoring the church."
Cox's motto of "We are on this journey together," proved to be true as just a few months after becoming pastor-elect, she found herself at the eye of the storm of an unthinkable tragedy. A house fire killed four of the five children of longtime member Reeba Glass. Cox stepped in to not only minister to the family but coordinate the community's response to help the family. The surviving Glass family members, Reeba, her son and her mother have since been back to church.
"I don't think that anybody walks through life alone," said Cox. "We all have people who are with us, whether they are a part of our everyday life or not. "
Cox describes herself as a teaching minister where she is not only pastoring to her members but teaching them as well. Her leadership includes the 2013 theme of "Crossing Over - Moving in a New Direction" (Philippians 3:13-14).
"I don't mean for that to mean that we're leaving everything that is traditional behind," Cox said. "I mean for it to bring us up to the 21st century. What that looks like to me in terms of doing ministry is called the divine art of neighboring. We have to be out in our communities and we have to reach people in our communities. It's not enough for us to come [to church] on Sundays and be isolated and not know what's going on. I think that with the tragedy that happened with the Glass family, it just let us know how much we're needed in the communities around here."
Originally from Lanett, Ala., Pastor Billie Cox and her husband Minister Lemuel Cox moved to the Conyers area in 2000. They currently live in Covington with their 10-year-old granddaughter Taylor. They have three adult children. Cox is also a full-time loan officer at a Conyers company dealing with residential mortgages.
To find out more information about Macedonia Baptist Church or to contact Pastor Billie Cox, email her at email@example.com.