One of the oldest churches in Madison has opted for the youngest pastor in its history to take the helm and lead the congregation into the future.
“I think I’m the first Millennial pastor in Madison Baptist Church’s history,” said Griffin Gulledge, who is just 30-years-old and is now the head pastor of Madison Baptist Church.
Gulledge and his wife Rachel, who are expecting their first child this August, are excited to start the next chapter of their lives in Madison, leading the historic Madison Baptist Church into a new era. The new pastor made his preaching debut over the Easter holiday, delivering four sermons for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
“It was quite the sprint to start off with,” said Gulledge. “But it was such an honor to start my ministry at Madison Baptist Church by preaching the most fundamental truths of the gospel — the message of the Cross, the hope of the resurrection, how our faith changes us and the love of God can change the world ... these are the most central things we believe together.”
While Gulledge may be young, he discovered his passion for ministry at just 18 years old and has spent the last 12 years studying the Bible and systematic theology, serving churches and community groups, and honing his skills of pastoral care. Baptist preaching is in his bones, as his father is also Southern Baptist pastor. Gulledge was born in Louisville, Ky., raised just outside of Birmingham, Ala., and spent several years in Wake Forest, N.C., studying at Southeastern Seminary. He is currently in a PhD program for systematic theology. Gulledge has served as a traveling preacher, worked with the Baptist Children’s Home in Alabama, and served as the director of communications for Southeastern Seminary.
Gulledge and Rachel wanted to put their education and calling into action by finding a home church to lead and stumbled across Madison Baptist Church online, which was on the search for a new head pastor. Gulledge expressed interest in the position in November 2020, and after several visits, interviews, and favorable votes from the congregation, The Gulledges packed their bags and relocated to Madison, just in time for Easter.
“We missed being with a congregation full-time. I missed preaching and pastoral work. When we found Madison Baptist Church, we just fell in love with this church and this town,” said Gulledge. “Madison is a lot like the towns we grew up in — a small town where everyone knows each other and gets involved in serving the community and the local schools.”
Gulledge isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel when it comes to church services, but he is planning to shift focus for Madison Baptist Church moving into the future.
“Right now, the church, in general, is turning a corner,” said Gulledge. “And the church has a way of doing things that has been roughly the same since the 1940s or 1950s. But the world is changing and we have to find new ways to reach the lost in our communities and new ways to make disciples in our churches. We have to be faithful in our times. And that’s what excites me about Madison Baptist Church There are young leaders here asking those same questions and eager to reach the next generation. We want to be centered around making disciples and teaching families how to honor the Lord in their lives.”
Gulledge is proud to lead the way in the next chapter of Madison Baptist Church’s legacy.
“This church has a rich and long history. I am standing on the shoulders of great things that have already happened. I am not tearing it down and building from scratch,” said Gulledge.
One of Gulledge’s main goals is attracting young families in the community to the church.
“I’m a millennial and I want young families like mine to have a place where they are not just talked to and talked at, but a place where they feel they can belong,” explained Gulledge.
Gulledge said he hopes Madison Baptist Church will be known for its faithfulness to the teachings of the Bible, its foundation as the death resurrection of Jesus Christ, its mission to reach the lost, and its service to the local community and communities around the globe. Gulledge is also committed to working alongside other local churches to better serve the needs of the community.
“If you are looking for a place to belong, for a church that will love you and where you can hear the message of grace and mercy that is found in Jesus, Madison Baptist is a great place for you,” said Gulledge. “It’s easy to see the big church with the big steeple that is nearly 200-years-old and think, ‘I could never go there.’ But I have found an incredibly kind and loving family at this church. The people here are eager to welcome others in. Come as you are and become part of the family at Madison Baptist Church.”