Dr. Karen Massey has been instrumental in recruiting preachers for the next few months as we enter into an interim period after the retirement of Senior Pastor James Lamkin on December 31.  

This Sunday, January 3, our first guest preacher will be Dr. Gregory DeLoach. Dr. DeLoach became interim dean of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology on Aug. 1, 2018. He also serves as director of development for McAfee and the College of Professional Advancement at Mercer University.

A native of Eatonton, Georgia, Dr. DeLoach has pastored congregations throughout the state for nearly three decades, including in Mansfield, Chickamauga, Marietta, and Augusta.

Following 10 years as senior pastor of First Baptist Augusta, he became executive director of Developmental Disabilities Ministries, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, charitable corporation serving adults with developmental disabilities and their families through operation of 19 homes across Georgia.

In February 2017, he joined the development staff at Mercer, having previously served on the university’s board of trustees. In addition to his responsibilities at Mercer, he serves as teaching pastor at First Baptist Monroe. He and his wife, Amy, have two adult sons, Clark and Aaron.

His sermon on Epiphany Sunday is entitled "Looking Nine Miles Down the Road.” 
Twenty-three years. For many people, twenty-three years marks a time of new beginnings. They are graduating from college, starting a new career, getting married or traveling the world. Twenty-three years seems like such a brief amount of time, marked by youth and a future full of possibilities.

For us at Northside Drive Baptist Church, twenty-three years seems like a lifetime, because so much has been packed into these years with James Lamkin. There have been graduations, new careers, weddings, and travel around the world, but there have also been job losses, divorces, illnesses, and funerals. These years have been marked by times of joyful celebration and deep grief, and James has been a sure and steady presence through them all.

Some of our times of celebration include baby dedications, children's baptisms, Habitat house builds, NDBC anniversary gatherings, Mardi Gras luncheons, ordination services for women and men, PIA picnics, Barnaby the Juggler stories, wonderful weddings, personal notes on our birthdays and mission trips to Americus, Guatemala and Taliaferro! James taught our church to be playful and enjoy each other.
 
James also used his excellent pastoral skills to help us walk through the dark valleys of life. When he visited our church 24 years ago, he wanted to meet all the charter members. During the past 23 years, he formed relationships with them, and now he has had the sacred honor of burying most of those saints and has become the best funeral preacher around. He has stood with us during the deaths of our family members and helped us through our grief. He was constantly beside hospital beds or in our homes during our illnesses or surgeries. James’ pastoral presence will surely be missed.              
              
While these twenty-three years bring to a close a lifetime of ministry, fellowship, and shared experiences, these years also set the stage for much hope. As James leaves us, he leaves us with a good foundation for a hopeful future. James helped us to clarify our identity and what we value. During his time with us, we voted to leave the Southern Baptist Convention and partner with the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We developed interfaith relationships with our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters. And we voted to become a welcoming and affirming congregation to all people. All of these important decisions are now part of our DNA, and they reflect who we are as God’s people in this time and place. 

We also grew to value intergenerational relationships. We are small enough that we know one another intimately by name, and we delight in fellowshipping together, praying for one another, and meeting each other’s needs. We find joy in being together.

The future is also hopeful for James. There will be more time to spend with Liz, his children and grandchildren. There will be more time for fly-fishing, traveling, reading, and exploring hobbies. 

As we bring these twenty-three years to a close, we will remember James Lamkin as a mentor to many and a juggler, pastor, storyteller, bell ringer, writer, knife thrower, preacher, mission-trip participant, fisherman, encourager, chaplain, World Pilgrim, wordsmith, pastoral physicist, and friend to all.

NDBC is so appreciative of all the many gifts that James and Liz have given to us over these 23+ years.

As Barbara Brown Taylor said in James’ video, “Go in peace, James Lamkin, your work here is complete. Go in faith, NDBC, your future is underway.”

With gratitude and love, NDBC
December 30, 2020

This past Sunday, James said "bye bye." He sat on those steps in a mostly empty sanctuary, bereft of worshippers because of a pandemic, and he said "bye bye."

It was an instant "Lamkin-ism" if I've ever heard one--and I've heard enough to know. The child-like words evoking the simplicity of his own origin story, his first words were bye bye. And his last words to us, those hardest to say, were bye bye. That's Lamkin, I said through tears. That's Lamkin.

James Lamkin is full of Lamkin-isms. Our conversations overflowed with them, and I almost always met them with childlike surprise and laughter. Usually, it was an elaborate and esoteric metaphor worthy of Shakespeare. He would keep unraveling it until the logic would twist back on itself, and I would gently lead us back to terra firma.

Or so I thought. The "firm land" of our mentoring life together more often than not was actually in those stories and metaphors. This is why Jesus taught in parables, apparently. You can't convey the truth through just blurting it out. The human mind is too fragile, too prone to over and misinterpretation. Better to tell the truth, as Flannery O'Connor said, slant.

Please understand that Lamkin's parabolic ministry unsettled and uprooted my training as a lawyer. We were taught to say "The witness saw the defendant at the intersection of Broad and Main Avenues." Plain, simple, propositional truth. Just the facts, ma'am.

But ministry doesn't work like that. The deepest ministry comes through the patient sifting of our life's stories in parable, suggestion, metaphor, and most of all...presence. That is why I believe that James Lamkin is one of the deepest ministers I have ever known, in the company of other deep clergy who have dedicated their lives to following Jesus in this strange calling.

In the first few weeks of our mentoring, I used to translate Lamkin-isms real time in my mind. Oh, by this metaphor, he means such and such, I'd think.

I no longer need such translation. I hear Lamkin-isms as a native speaker might their language of origin. Terrifying, I know.

Myriad examples teem and pulsate at memory's edge. But, this one will suffice. I asked him for counsel on a course of action recently. Well, he said. You could try that. But it would be like landing a C-130 in a duck pond.... He let the ellipsis hang in the air. Other, less-experienced ministers would have arrived at the truth of this through an hour of half-starts and rambling thoughts.

Another Lamkin-ism I love: Let me talk for a minute until I figure out what I believe. Ministers are often called upon to weigh in on topics as mundane as the HVAC system to the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine. Humility is required to say that one is not sure about how to answer. Grace is asked of the listener. Let me talk out loud for a minute so I can get clear.

Along with that humility came an uncommon grace for encouraging maturation and growth in other ministers. Only rarely would James tell me what to do with direct and uncompromising language.

"Don't do that," he said. I didn't. I don't even recall the occasion, I just remember thinking there it is.

He knew the boundaries, and if I was getting too close, he would tell me. But mostly, he would tell stories and weave metaphors, and let me grow in my own way. That was, and is, the greatest gift he gave me.

Well, almost the greatest gift.

The greatest gift he ever gave is the one he gave NDBC for the past 23 years. The gift of self. James never put on the skin of other preachers. Many do. He loved Fred Craddock and would often imitate his voice, but he never tried to be Fred Craddock. He always tried, and always worked hard at being, just James.

To be comfortable in one's own skin is a rare gift. I'm sure James struggled with it over the years, like all mere mortals do. But, he was comfortable. And the thing about being around leaders like that is they encourage similar development.

There is more to say, and we'll have more time to say it. But for now, to my brother James, bye-bye. (Now, give me a call later this afternoon, I want to hear your voice).

With great love and gratitude for a deep friend, pastor, and mentor...
Rev. Daniel Headrick
Associate Pastor

Prayer for James Lamkin

Oh God who calls pastors to uncertain and joyful service,
We thank you for calling your servant James here to be with us for these past 23 years.
For James’ open heart, which has grown and stretched over the years, and helped us grow and stretch too—
A heart that learned to worship with Jews and Muslims,
Which learned to find the deep common ground between those who call upon your name,
For a heart which loved gay people, straight people, and street people,
And taught us to love all people too.
 
For James’ uncommon grace, we give you thanks,
Grace which came in meeting people where they are,
Grace that came without the sharp bite of shame and judgment,
Grace which permitted and forgave and allowed and embraced.
And which he first learned from you, O God, that great giver of grace,
From whom all grace flows.

For his love of words, O God, we give you thanks—
You spoke Creation into being with words,
And gave us tongues rich with language and poetry,
But more than that, you allow us to name the deepest realities of our lives
with words.
And James has worded us over the years. 
Metaphors and poetic imagery, alliteration and puns, the carefully chosen word, and also the playfully chosen word.
And all to your glory, and all in service to you, O God, who creates with words, raises from the dead with words, and blesses with words.

In the name of Jesus, the Word, Amen.

Blessing and Benediction

May you climb every tree that you’ve ever wanted to climb
May you read every book that you’ve ever desired
May you stop reading a book that you discover you don’t like
May you write that book you’ve been wanting to write
May you travel and enjoy and turn off the phone
May the love that carried you to ministry
Carry you through retirement
Through Christ our Lord
Who also retired, from being a carpenter,
And who blesses us all.
Amen.  
In case you missed it, here is the message we sent out Christmas Day:

Dear Congregation:
Merry Christmas to you! I hope you are all safe and experiencing the warmth and love of God this day. Early this morning I delivered, on behalf of the congregation, one of our parting gifts to Senior Pastor James Lamkin: a series of video messages from fellow pilgrims who have touched James along his journey. 
We selected two representative voices from NDBC to deliver messages on this video. The majority of the voices come from other folk who have touched James, and whom James has touched with his ministry, over these many years. As Northside Drivers have had many opportunities to say words over these last few months, we wanted to give this unique gift to James from those who by geography and vocation are at a greater distance.

Along with these messages of love, musician Carrie Newcomer sings A Gathering of Spirits and the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor gives the benediction at the end.
Since James’ announcement of his retirement, we’ve had several opportunities in these days of social distancing to say words to James, to tell him what he means to us, and how we love him. James and many musicians have gifted us with three wonderful Northside Drive Home Companions over the last few months, recordings of which are available on YouTube.

Saying goodbye to a Pastor like James who has served faithfully for over 23 years always comes up short, but God honors our attempts. Whatever else our many efforts at connecting mean, they at least mean that we love God, we love James & Liz, and we love each other. Out of this love, which is unending and mysterious, God will continue to provide.

Our future is in God’s hands, expressed lovingly through each of you who labor together for the good in this community called Northside Drive Baptist Church. I give thanks for the ministry of James Lamkin. And I give thanks for each of you.

With deep gratitude and with great love on this holy day…Merry Christmas!
Rev. Daniel Headrick
Associate Pastor
The NDBC sanctuary is open for individual prayer
weekdays from 2:00-3:30 pm.
Please bring a coat, as the sanctuary is unheated.

The display will end on January 7, 2021

The Wade Davis Nativity Gallery is open.  
The Wade Davis Nativity Display, introduced Advent 2019, is once again on view, but in a more concise format, on the balcony level of the sanctuary (level 5 in elevator). The display can be enjoyed any time the sanctuary is open for safe Covid gatherings.
We are thankful for all of those who have pledged in support of the church’s 2021 budget and ask that if you still have not pledged to please consider doing so as soon as possible. Also, if you have not completed payments on your 2020 pledges, please do so as we finalize the year. 

Pledging is easy and a great way for you to make a difference in our world. You can contact Rose Hidlay our business manager at 404-237-8621 or email her at rose@northsidedrive.org. You can mail a pledge card to the church at 2100 Northside Drive Atlanta GA 30305 or give online at www.northsidedrive.org/giving.

Thanks again to all those who have pledged. We look forward to a wonderful New Year.
The Art & Soul church school class will meet this Sunday, January 3 at 9:30 am via Zoom, ending in time for those who would like to attend worship in person to do so. Associate Pastor Daniel Headrick will lead the group in the first of a three week series on Exodus ambitiously titled "Journey Through Exodus: The Church, Exile, and Covid-19." If you are interested, Daniel has prepared some introductory material to read with some suggested texts. Note that a passcode is required.

Meeting ID: 824 8851 2109
Passcode: 936319
Christmas Missions Giving

Thanks to everyone who has been a partner with us in our Missions giving this year. Because of your generosity, our MorningStar children had gifts under the tree especially for them Christmas morning. The young scholars who attend classes and after school activities at The Stewart Center found special gifts and school supplies waiting for them at their Christmas celebration. Across metro Atlanta, families struggling to make ends meet because of losing jobs or medical expenses had bountiful food for the holidays and were able to be in their homes celebrating with loved ones. Your gifts to Urban Recipe, The Stewart Center, MorningStar and Buckhead Christian Ministries provided comfort to these children and families in need. Your compassion and love were a blessing to so many. Thank you!! 
Our Missions program is part of the overall church budget. As Northside Drive begins a new budget year, remember that the work of our Mission partners continues. Our financial support helps them meet the needs of the many children and families they serve. Please return your pledge cards and give generously to support the important work of Northside Drive Baptist Church.  
Weekly Church Events

We are moving to live-streaming our worship in the next few Sundays, and we ask for your patience as we figure out the technology. We are grateful for the Audio Committee and the direction of Brian Knight.

Art and Soul Church School - This Sunday at 9:30 am via Zoom
Meeting ID: 824 8851 2109
Passcode: 936319

Sunday Morning Worship - 11:00 am live-stream via YouTube, a recording of which will be available for later viewing.

Wednesday Pastor's Morning Bible Study - 10:30 am via Zoom (There will be no Bible study the week of December 30; it will resume on January 6).
Meeting ID: 250 663 1572
Passcode: 6789

Saturday Prayer Meeting - 2:00 pm via Zoom
Meeting ID: 250 663 1572
Passcode: 6789

Sanctuary Open for Prayer - Daily - 2:00-3:30 pm. The Wade Davis nativity sets are on display in the church on the fifth floor. Display ends on January 7.
Armand Kramedjian - January 2
Barbara Schroeder - January 2
Kennedy Molina - January 5
Posey Starkey - January 5
Ruth Kramedjian - January 7
Joyce Wilson - January 7
Jerry Smith - January 8
Pam Wamberg - January 9
Don Janney - January 9
Charlton Roberts - January 14
Libby Martin - January 15
Sebastian Almeida - January 15
Jeanne Hill - January 16
Ryan King - January 16
Anne Ledbetter - January 16
Fabio Molina - January 16
Donna McLarty - January 17
Vanita Morgan- January 17
Lewis Bozard - January 17
During this time of remote worship, know of our prayers for you and your family. Contact our clergy if you have prayer requests or other concerns. 
You may make your donation via our website through this link or by mail to
Northside Drive Baptist Church
NDBC Staff

Nick Bonner, Custodian
Melinda Clark, Organist
Daniel Headrick, Associate Pastor
Rose Hidlay, Business Manager
Andrea Johnson, Director of Children's Ministries
James Lamkin, Senior Pastor
Will Mathews, Administrative Manager
Joleen Neel, Preschool Director
Mary Lou Swann, Director of Children's Choirs
David Vaughns, Custodian
Keith Walker, Director of Music Ministries
Church Office Hours
Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
(404) 237-8621

The Church offices will be closed on
Friday, December 31 for New Year's Eve and
Friday, Janaury1 for New Year's Day
We wish you and yours a joyful holiday.