Dr. David Williamson has been welcomed as new senior pastor of Hernando Baptist Church as he welcomes the chance to serve God, his church and the community.
Williamson, his wife and two daughters, arrived from a church in Hattiesburg to DeSoto County in December, impressed with the church and its desire to impact the community for Christ.
“Our congregation has been brought to a place of being a healthy congregation,” Williamson said. “There’s an excitement here of what God would have us to do. We’re seeing families come and join. There’s an excitement but there’s also an atmosphere of trying to rebuild the ministry team so that we can then see what God would want us to do next.”
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the “preacher’s kid” with a father who served in ministry for about 40 years lived in several places, including Dover, Delaware and Lafayette, Indiana. Williamson's ministry has been just as varied, including stops in Newton and in Hattiesburg before his arrival in Hernando.
Ministry was not immediately on Williamson’s mind as a vocation, however.
“I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to be a pastor or that I wanted to be a pastor,” he explained. “In my second year of college, God put this impression on my heart that He wanted me to do something in ministry with my life. It was several years later in seminary that God refined that and worked some things out in my life that led me to the local church.”
Williamson added he has been blessed by his ultimate decision, saying, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life.”
His background as the son of a pastor who he called “one of my heroes in ministry” has given him a foundation block to his work for God.
“My father served for over 40 years in full time ministry,” said Williamson. “He was an encouragement to me, but I’ve had other ministers speak into my life and I have forged those relationships with other ministers. It’s good to find other wisdom in older, wiser people.”
As the church has welcomed the Williamson family, he also wants to provide a warm welcome to those seeking a faith-filled life.
“One of the things I have loved since I have been here is talking with visitors and those that have joined and ask what brought them here,” he said. “Many have responded that they were welcomed like into a family.”
What excites Williamson is being able to come alongside those who desire a deeper understanding and enrichment of their Christian faith.
“There’s so many people in the world, in church and outside of the church, that are hurting, broken, confused. Some are maybe even belligerent about the faith and don’t want any part of it,” he said. “Helping the person in whatever stage in their journey is with Jesus to helping them in their understanding, within their families, within the community of faith and within the community. To see that happen is just an awesome experience.”
Hernando Baptist features two services each Sunday, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m., which are both the same style with a mix of contemporary and traditional music.
“Our primary focus in our worship set is not a specific style but, does this singing lead people to worship Jesus more and love people more?” Williamson said. “I’ve always wanted to be in a place that people felt welcomed regardless of their socio-economic base or personal make up.”
The new leader of Hernando Baptist Church said his church wants to welcome those wanting to join them on their daily journey.
“We’re definitely not a perfect congregation, but we’re excited about people who want to join us in learning what it means to love God more.”
Learn more about Hernando Baptist on the internet at hernandobaptist.org. The church is located at 11 E. Center Street.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.