Listening to God

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Gary Baldwin was just a boy when God told him what he would do with his life.
Now pastor of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Baldwin has been in Brewton a short while, but he has already endeared himself to those in his church and around town.
Baldwin was born Dec. 16, 1949, in Bucryus, Ohio, one of five children in the family. His father was a welder in a road machine factory. He grew up in another town, Galion, Ohio.
He graduated from Galion Senior High School in 1968 and had known since the age of seven what he wanted to do with his life.
He attended Mount Vernon Nazarene College, a two-year college in its first year of existence.
After attending Mount Vernon and graduating in 1970, Baldwin went on to Bethany Nazarene College (which is now Southern Nazarene University). Between 1970 and 1976 when he graduated from there, he earned his bachelor's degree with a major in religion and a minor in psychology and went on to earn his master's degree.
While finishing his thesis there, he was also beginning another program at Georgia State University. The program trained counselors to work in a church setting and he had decided counseling was where his work was going to be.
He also had made the decision to become an Episcopalian while he was at Georgia State.
He began working as a counseling psychologist and moved to Florence, Ala.
He went to his first church at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Childersburg while practicing as a licensed therapist. He stayed there from 1988 until 1991. He also married his wife Kathy in 1989 while he was there.
In 1991, he moved to the Church of Messiah in Pulaski, Tenn., and stayed there for 14 years. Kathy came to the marriage with two daughters, and Baldwin was an instant father to them. By this time he was into full-time ministry and the church was in a rebuilding phase.
Baldwin has not been in Brewton for very long but he is very involved in community work. He is on the Escambia County Mental Health board and the Benevolent Fund Board.
He received his master's degree in counseling in 1978 and his Divinity degree in 1988. He is now working on his doctorate at Wineburger Seminary in Findley, Ohio.
Baldwin doesn't have much free time, but when he does he loves to watch &#8220American Chopper” on television, go bird watching with his wife, spend time at the beach or do some traveling. He also has a collection of smoking pipes that he began collecting before he quit smoking one himself.
Baldwin and St. Stephens are participating this week in community-wide Holy Week services.
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, when Christians believe Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. In order to celebrate, local churches have banded together in order to share with congregations around town a belief and faith shared by each of them.
Five area churches have joined together to bring the message of the life, death and resurrection of Christ to as many people as possible this week.
Each day at noon, the pastors of the five churches are swapping around to bring the message to those in a congregation other than their own.
Monday, April 10, the service was held at St. Maurice Catholic Church and the Rev. Jack Fitts of the First Baptist Church brought the message.
Tuesday, April 11, the service was held at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Adrian Cook from St. Maurice Catholic Church bringing the message.
Today, Wednesday, April 12, the service will be held at St. Stephens Episcopal Church with the Rev. John Mathieu bringing the message.
Thursday, April 13, the service will be held at First Baptist Church and the Rev. Dr. Ed Glaize will bring the message.
Friday, April 14, the service will be held at First Presbyterian Church with Baldwin bringing the message.