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Union graduate called as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church

Steve Gaines preaches at Bellevue Baptist Church. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Steve Gaines preaches at Bellevue Baptist Church. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

CORDOVA, Tenn.July 15, 2005 – Steve Gaines, a 1979 Union University graduate, will be the new pastor of historic Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn.

The church voted July 10 to call Gaines, 47, to succeed Adrian Rogers, the church’s pastor of 32 years who retired earlier this year.

Gaines has been pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Ala., for the past 14 years.

His wife, Donna, is a 1980 Union University graduate, and the couple’s oldest son Grant graduated from Union in May. Their daughter Lindsey will be a freshman at Union this fall. They also have a 15-year-old daughter, Alison, and a 12-year-old daughter, Bethany.

Gaines told Bellevue he and his family never intended to leave Gardendale, Ala., and that his plan was to stay there for the rest of his life.

“There may not be, in that regard, a human reason why we’re here, but I believe there’s a heavenly reason why we’re here,” Gaines said. “Today’s not about Steve Gaines and it’s not even about Bellevue Baptist Church. Today is about the kingdom of God and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In his sermon, Gaines preached from Acts 9:31 about the marks of a healthy church.

While some may suggest that the idea of preaching behind a pulpit is passé, and that churches shouldn’t take stands on moral issues of the day like abortion, homosexuality and gambling, Gaines disagrees. He also doesn’t support the trend of churches that embrace technology and water down their message.

“You can have all of the new techniques, all of the state of the art media and technology,” Gaines said. “You can have all the latest programs and the bells and whistles and still not have a healthy church in the eyes of God.”

A healthy church is characterized by peace, edification, reverence, spirituality and growth, he said.

“We need to stop talking about church growth,” Gaines said. “We need to talk about church health. A healthy church will grow.”

Since Gaines began his ministry at Gardendale in 1991, the church’s average morning worship attendance has increased from 1,600 to 3,300. The church has baptized 3,251 people during that time, leading the Alabama Baptist State Convention in baptisms seven times over the past 10 years.

Prior to that, Gaines served as pastor of West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and as pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Gaines completed his master of divinity degree and his doctor of philosophy degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Donna also earned a master of education degree from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas.

Harry Smith, a Union University trustee, was vice chairman of Bellevue’s pastor search committee.

“We’ll give you everything we have,” Gaines said after the church voted to call him. “I don’t know all the answers. I don’t even know if I know all the questions. But I know the Lord, and I know he has done all things well. And he will do a wonderful work through all of us.”

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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