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FBC-Brewton pastor retiring in January

Lydia Grimes | The Brewton Standard FBC Pastor Jack Fitts will retire in January.

Lydia Grimes |
The Brewton Standard
FBC Pastor Jack Fitts will retire in January.

First Baptist Church of Brewton Pastor Jack Fitts is retiring after nearly 20 years of service.

“We have been blessed by the people’s support and will miss each and every one of them” Fitts said.

“After much prayerful consideration, we feel like its the right time to make this move. As many know, my wife has been fighting muscular dystrophy (MS) for 28 years, and we want to move closer to our children.”

Fitts’ last day is Jan. 17, 2016. He will leave after more than 17 years of devoted service to members of the church and the community.

At some point after his retirement, Fitts and his wife, Bonnie, will be moving to Chattanooga, Tenn., a place that is very familiar to them, having served there some years ago.

The Rev. Fitts was born in Danville, Va., in 1950 and attended George Washington High School graduating in 1969. He then attended Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., graduating in 1973 with a degree in education. His goal was a teaching and coaching profession, which he did  until 1975 at Chatham High School in Chatham, Va.

“I taught Spanish and coached football and baseball,” he said. “I have always loved working with kids. I played sports in school and was always involved with church activities. I felt called to the ministry while I was teaching in Chatham.”

Fitts attended Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest , N.C., graduating in 1978 with a master’s degree in divinity.

“I was just finishing seminary when I got a call from Bro. John Finklea,” Fitts said. “He wanted to know if I would like to come to Brewton as the associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Brewton and work in the student ministry. I knew him from Danville, Va., and had worked as a summer youth director.”

Fitts came to Brewton in 1978 and stayed until 1980 when he got his first job as senior pastor in Sulligent, Ala.

After five years as pastor at First Baptist Church in Sulligent, Fitts went to Chattanooga, Tenn. to serve as pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church for about seven years. He then was contacted to come back to Brewton, this time as the senior pastor, when Finklea retired.

“Brother John has been an integral part of my life,” Fitts said.

“He set the tone for me to follow and he had laid a good foundation here are First Baptist Church,” he said. “We are also blessed here with a great staff. Their longevity speaks for itself. They have all been here for years and we have a great working relationship.”

Over the years, the church leadership has worked very well together. After a major building project in the 1960s, resulting in a new sanctuary, eight years ago, the office of attorney Bill Stokes was bought by the church to house new offices for the staff.

“We were able to turn the old offices into the nursery and the old nursery is now used as a Sunday school classroom,” Fitts said. “I am happy any time we are able to do something for the young. They hold a special place in my heart and we are happy that we were able to bring Randy Winton here to be the minister of students. Randy came to us from Chattanooga, too.”

Fitts said that the membership of First Baptist Church of Brewton stands at around 1,000 with about 400 coming on a regular basis.

Fitts and his wife have two daughters, Kylie Rae, who is married to Paul Jernigan, and Ashley Jean, who is married to Brad Fortis. Kylie lives in Birmingham, and she has two children, Jude and Collins. Ashley also has two children, Jackson and Ruby Kate.

The First Baptist Church of Brewton is planning on holding a reception to honor the Fitts family at the church on Jan. 10, 2016. Church members, former church members and those who know the Fitts family are invited to attend the reception and wish the family well in their new venture.

“Preachers don’t retire,” Fitts said. “They stick around and fill in wherever they can. This doesn’t mean I will sit around with nothing to do. I plan on staying as busy as I can.”