Edmondson sees ministry as chance to be ‘peaceful mediator’

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Ben Edmondson says God has taught him a lot of things over the years, but one of them is this — every church has unique needs. And the biggest mission of an associational missionary is to help each church deal with those needs.

He can remember one night while he was serving as director of missions for Limestone Baptist Association — a role he took on in 1999 — when he went to preach at a church that had let its pastor go the week before.

“The vote was 50 to 51 to dismiss the pastor,” Edmondson said, noting that the split vote showed the state of the church. “They weren’t united on what they needed.”

So he got to work helping them pull things back together. At their request, he helped them rewrite their church’s constitution.

And as he served as their interim and they worked together, slowly Edmondson began to help them see where reconciliation might be needed in the church.

“I saw grown men go across the aisle with tears in their eyes and ask forgiveness from other church members,” he said. “When they voted on their next decision after that, the vote was 100%.”

Through his 60 years of ministry — a decade of bivocational pastorates, 30 years of full-time pastoral work, 20 years at Limestone Association and 10 years of supply preaching — Edmondson felt that God confirmed over and over the need for him to serve as a peaceful mediator.

At one church where he was called, he was asked to tackle the issue of helping to reunite a splintering youth program. At another, he was asked to shepherd a young minister who was resisting the staff’s leadership. One day, that young man came to him in tears and said God had shown him he needed to get his spiritual life back on track.

“This journey, it’s been a blessing,” Edmondson said. “Everywhere I went, I tried to simply say, ‘I’m here as your servant; what are your needs?’ I want to love them well, and I enjoy mentoring younger ministers.”

He says he never could have imagined where the journey would take him when he surrendered to God’s call years ago. But he always knew it was a yes — and he says it also was a yes for his wife, Geraldine.

Together they committed to the road God had laid out for them, and with confidence in his call, Edmondson drove down to Howard College (now Samford University) from his home in Gadsden one weekend to tour the campus.

Finding a faculty member still at work, he asked if she could enroll him.

“She said, ‘Well, since you’re so adamant, I’ll give you the admissions test,’” Edmondson said. “Then after she graded the test, she asked me why I wanted to come to school, and I told her I wanted to get an education. She told me I definitely needed one, but with my enthusiasm, she was going to recommend that they let me in.”

They did — and it only made Edmondson’s confidence in his call stronger. Years later when he interviewed for the Limestone Association position, he was certain it was where God was leading him.

“They asked how sure I was God was calling me there, and I said, ‘You can interview 100 men, but I know what God’s will is for me,’” he said.

Miracle moves of God

He got the job and he saw God move. While Edmondson was there, not only were churches reunited, he helped plant Clements Baptist Church and Lindsay Lane Baptist Church — stories that also involve miracle moves of God, he said.

“In all of the years, I never questioned the call of God,” Edmondson said. “He is so faithful — what a Savior.”

After he earned his bachelor’s degree in religion from Samford University, he went on to earn a master’s degree in organizational administration from Jacksonville State University.

He first answered the call to serve as a full-time pastor at his home church, Mount Zion Baptist Church in DeKalb Baptist Association, in 1969. Over the next 30 years, he served there and a numbe of other churches — Ford’s Valley in Etowah Baptist Association, Midway (a mission of East Gadsden Baptist Church), Northside Baptist in Talladega, Glencoe Baptist Church, Southside Baptist in Albertville, and Central Baptist in Florence.

He also served as a supply pastor from 2009 to 2019 at NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville, First Baptist Church of Cedar Bluff and First Baptist Church of Gadsden and twice at First Baptist Church of Altoona.

Now after the loss of his wife of 59 years — his companion, a dear pastor’s wife who never met a stranger — he said he’s walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but he’s still doing ministry.

“I get to share what God has done for me wherever the door opens. And He has been good,” Edmondson said, giving glory “to the only wise God, our Savior.”