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This guest post is written by KJ Hill, one of the Summit’s local outreach pastors. He will be joining LaToya King, Raudel Hernandez, Walter Strickland, and me (J.D.) for a panel discussion Tuesday, January 17, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Summit en Español venue of our Brier Creek campus. The panel’s topic is “Martin Luther King Jr.: Race, Church, and Culture 50 Years Later.” RSVP today and I’ll see you tomorrow!

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday.  Dr. King was born on January 15th, but the holiday would be celebrated every year on the third Monday of January. The following year, President Reagan signed a proclamation for observing Sanctity of Human Life Day on the third Sunday in January to coincide with the January 22nd date of the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.

As a Christian, I believe both of these days are important. In fact, I think that in many ways these days represent two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, sometimes in the church, people who are only focused on one side of the coin can feel at odds over which is of greater importance and can feel like the other group doesn’t even acknowledge their fight for justice.

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Great Quotes from “Centered & Sent”

Posted by Pastor J.D. on October 20, 2016

Yesterday was the end of our Centered & Sent Conference. The conference was designed to help the church navigate the tension between being culturally relevant and radically distinct—a combination that will only become more important as our society grows increasingly post-Christian.

If you were at the conference, you know it was phenomenal. If you missed it, you’ll want to check back and download the videos as soon as they are available. Our guest speakers—Tim Keller, Bryan Loritts, Ed Stetzer, and Joby Martin—brought incredible passion and insight. I’m thankful to each one of them for the wisdom they offer the church.

The full lectures will be available soon, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights from their talks:

Tim Keller


“Evangelicalism is breaking up. But why? Because culture has changed, and evangelicals are divided on how to respond to it.”

“We are the first culture that says the meaning of life is to free yourself from the sacred order and become a person who can choose all things yourself. Our culture is the first one in history that thinks the essence of character is not self-control, but self-assertion.””

“There’s a great hunger for a new kind of Christianity that lets people feel that they are connected to God—but a Christianity that is completely re-engineered in light of culture, where you still get to decide what is right or wrong for you.”

“Most Christians have never had to do evangelism in a culture like this, a culture in which we are the villains. Well, we had better learn.”

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A couple weeks ago, Bill Ricketts announced his retirement from Prince Avenue Baptist Church (PABC) in Athens, GA. You may be wondering, why do you care about this random pastor’s retirement? Because “Brother Bill,” as he’s affectionately known, has had an enduring—though often invisible—impact on The Summit Church. From my last count, at least 27 of our Summit staff or missionaries have sat under the preaching and leadership of Brother Bill. It’s no accident, either: Bill has led PABC to be one of the most significant sending churches within the entire Southern Baptist Convention during his 43 years as pastor. (For those of you doing the math: yes, he’s been in ministry about as long as I’ve been alive.)

I had the chance to catch up with Bill last week, and asked him to share a little about what he’s learned over the years.

J.D.: Brother Bill, tell me about the two great calls in your life, the call to follow Christ and the call to be pastor.

Bill: I was born in Florida, spent most of my years in Kentucky, and moved around a lot but when I was a boy. In Indiana, at the age of 9, my Christian parents always took me to Sunday School. I had a great teacher who had a heart for memorizing Scripture. I began memorizing Scripture because for every verse I did, I got a free pencil. But the Spirit of God used it anyway. One day I was learning Romans 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And God used that verse in my heart to call me to salvation.

As for my call, you have to understand that I was in a little church in Bowling Green, KY that raised up and sent out over 200 pastors and missionaries. This was just what it meant to give your life to Jesus, so I surrendered the call to gospel ministry when I was a senior in high school. The first time I shared my testimony was in a jail (not because I was in there but because my pastor took me with him).  By the time I was a sophomore in college, I had my first pastorate. That’s how I got through school—pastoring that small country church.

J.D.:  You’ve been at Prince Avenue for 43 years. When you look back on that time, what could you share with younger pastors?

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