Selma Baptist Association lends help to church plants in ‘pioneer’ states

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Tom Stacey says he’s long had a heart for the fringes of the country — the pioneer places that don’t have much of a Baptist presence.

That’s why during the past 29 years he’s led team after team to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine and other places where Baptist churches are few and far between. 

Vision begins

It was a habit he started in the late 1980s when he was in Randolph Baptist Association, and he kept doing it when he became director of missions (DOM) of Selma Baptist Association in 1997.

But the vision began even earlier than that.

When Stacey was getting ready to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, someone told him they had a job for him as a church planter in Ohio. So in 1983 he went.

“It was a county that had no Southern Baptist work,” he said. “I went up there as a single guy and got married while I was up there, but we had no help.”

So when he moved back to Alabama six years later he brought back with him a burden for the pioneer states.

“My heartbeat ever since has been pioneer missions,” Stacey said. 

In the years since he’s gone on 103 missions trips, and he’s taken people from his association with him. They’ve built buildings, engaged in roofing and disaster relief work, led Vacation Bible Schools and distributed the Jesus Film.

“We’ve had some unofficial partnerships with the folks up there,” he said. 

One of those is with Chris Baker, a former Clarke Baptist Association DOM who moved to Montana as a church planter.

Baker said partners like Selma Baptist Association have been a “tremendous blessing.”

“We have some of the best partners in Alabama and it is vital to continue the work here,” he said.

Stacey said it’s been a blessing for Selma Baptists as well.

“We’ve gotten to see the people at work in those places over the long haul, and that’s been a rewarding, fruitful experience,” he said. “It’s been very encouraging.”

He’s a hands-on kind of guy. He says he learned from the late Tommy Puckett, who retired as men’s ministry strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, that the best way to get men involved is to actually get out and do something.

“So we work,” Stacey said. “We’re not a big association but we work, and that has consistently resonated with the men here.”

Various efforts

And what has happened on those trips has bled back into the association. Throughout the years the association has given more than $69,000 toward various missions efforts. 

They’ve partnered with Sav-A-Life, Teen Challenge and a local organization that offers ministries such as tutoring for children.

They’ve also had a very active disaster relief team that responds to needs on a regular basis.

“We’ve seen God do a lot of amazing things over the years,” Stacey said.