Thirty years ago, John Granger had just led his Mobile-area church through a merger and felt God was calling him to a new season of ministry. He vividly remembers praying for God to show him where to go, whether for a short or long time.
Turns out, it was a long time.
Granger celebrated 30 years of ministry in Coffee Baptist Association in the spring. Three decades ago he was called to the pastorate of Goodman Baptist Church in Enterprise, and eight years later became the association’s director of missions.
To mark that milestone, the association renamed one of their buildings the Dr. John W. Granger Conference Center.
At the end of July, Granger retired.
He said the years “went by fast,” but he’s grateful for the pastoral support he had when he considered the role 22 years ago. He’s also grateful for the support of the association’s committees.
“I cannot recall one single time that I would meet with the missions development committee and say, ‘Let’s do this, let’s start a racetrack chaplaincy or a church,’ and they would say no. That really is something,” Granger recalled.
Over the years the association has hosted large-scale evangelistic events ranging from a horse whisperer to a strength team, where hundreds made decisions to follow Christ. Granger also led missions trips overseas and provided Vacation Bible Schools in other parts of the state.
He also encouraged the association to sponsor children and youth summer camps at Vineyard Christian Retreat, a ministry of the association. Two years ago the camp reported more decisions for Christ than in all the association’s 48 churches.
During his time as DOM, gifts rose from around $62,000 a year to some $250,000, and the association has been instrumental in starting several churches including Church of All Nations, Faith Community and Lighthouse Bible Baptist. He also helped bring John Gunter on as regional Hispanic missionary for seven associations in the area.
Rick Barnhart, director of the office of associational missions and church planting for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said Granger has been a unifier for the association and demonstrated vision for what might be done.
“He and I spent many days driving around evaluating where a good church plant could go and how it could be accomplished and how he could get churches to partner together,” Barnhart recalled. “And he was planting a church himself while being at the association.”
Granger has served as pastor of that congregation, Church on Boll Weevil Circle in Enterprise, at different times since he started it in the association’s office in 2005 with one other person. He serves there now, and though he is retiring from the DOM role he plans to continue to serve as the pastor.
“It’s a challenge when you start with nothing, but it’s been a blessing,” Granger said of the congregation back in 2019. “God has done so much through this loving and devoted congregation. We have great hope that we’ll be able to continue being a light to the community.”
Barnhart said he’s grateful for Granger’s contributions to the ministry in Coffee Association.
“He’s been a friend, been supportive of the State Board of Missions and very much involved in all aspects you would like to see an associational missionary get involved in,” Barnhart said. “He’s strategic, good in planting and very thorough in teaching, support and encouragement for pastors.”