Posts Tagged ‘Buddy Burgess’

Story by Beth Bayless.

For many of us, an image of our life may be a path that goes to unexpected places as God nudges us in directions we had not planned. I believe this aptly describes Buddy Burgess’ road to ministry.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesIn August, Buddy was preparing to retire as pastor of FBC’s Deaf Mission. I asked him “When you first started out, did you have any indication this is where you would end up?”

Buddy smiled and told me the story of being led by God to this place and this time. During much of the journey he did not see God’s specific plans until he arrived at his destination. But it was apparent that he trusted God along the way.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy grew up on a farm near Spartanburg, SC. As a teen, one of his proudest moments was when his football team won its conference championship. Buddy had no plans for further education, and after graduation, began working in a cotton mill.

When he became involved in Pony League baseball (for boys 13 to 15 years old), he realized he wanted to be a coach. After two years at the mill, he enrolled in Spartanburg Junior College, a Methodist school. A required religion class made two lasting impressions on him. First, he used the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which was much clearer than the King James Version he was used to. Second, the class required service in the community.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at Spartanburg, a chance encounter led Buddy to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, where he was hired as an assistant to do hearing tests in the audiology department and provide training.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBy the time Buddy completed Spartanburg, he realized he needed a bachelor’s degree. He was accepted at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC. At ACC, Buddy majored in physical education. Later he changed his major to education of the deaf and finally settled on religion and philosophy as God’s plans for his life became clearer.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy, who worked his way through college, jokes that he completed four years of college in only nine years. He often had two or three part-time jobs – working in a warehouse and as a teletype operator, audiologist assistant, and physical therapy assistant. At times he had to drop out for a quarter to earn enough money to continue. But even there God was working. A member of his home church offered both spiritual support and financial help with food and lodging. Then someone in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provided a grant-in-aid for him. It was enough for Buddy to complete college.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at ACC, Buddy realized God was nudging him toward the ministry. After graduation, he decided to work for a year before entering seminary. He became a full-time physical therapy assistant at the local hospital, where he met and soon married Ann Boswell.

During his last year at Southeastern Theological Seminary, the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention encouraged Buddy to consider a job as a minister to the deaf. This was not in Buddy’s plan but after he and Ann prayed for direction, he completed the application. Following graduation, Buddy was called as the first minister for the deaf at First Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesLooking back, Buddy sees many instances where God nudged his choices of part-time jobs, schools and the people he met. Now as he looks forward to the next part of his walk with God, Buddy anticipates more time with his grandchildren, opportunities to travel including a 50th reunion with his high school football team, and a possible mission trip to Korea to lead a sports camp. He also anticipates more nudges and direction adjustments.

Watch a video about Buddy Burgess produced by Sean Cook and Allen Cumbia.

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Story by Susan Hughes. Photos by Jess Ward.

Making it to a 25th anniversary is a milestone in any relationship, certainly one to celebrate. So, it’s not a surprise that the Deaf Mission of Richmond’s First Baptist Church did exactly that – they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their ministry on October 19, 2013.

Deaf congregation worship

Deaf congregation Sunday worship

Dr. Peter J. Flamming, FBC’s pastor at the time of the deaf ministry’s inception, shared his thoughts of that time with current members. Mike Jones, deaf ministry consultant with the Virginia Baptist Resource Center, represented Baptist state-wide work with the hearing impaired. The celebration included two songs signed by The Hands of Joy choir and a PowerPoint presentation of 25 years of photos. Buddy Burgess, pastor of the Deaf Mission, said “Everyone enjoyed seeing the changes time had made in members!”


Interpreters sign for deaf attending the Christmas tea.

While 1988 was the official beginning of FBC’s deaf ministry, the story really began several years before. In 1985 Connie Glass followed her passion and vision for this work and began interpreting for those who attended regular FBC services. Connie received support and guidance from FBC members Allen Justice, Larry Fogg, Bernice Rodgerson, Sue Atkins, and Jim Flamming. The congregation called its first pastor, Carter Bearden, in 1989. In 1997 Carter was called to a new position, FBC’s minister to young married adults and missions coordinator. Later he was called to pastor a hearing congregation.

Buddy Burgess

Rev. Buddy Burgess

In 1989, the mission became a full-fledged and independent congregation with its own services, committees, deacons, budget, and two Sunday school classes. The deaf lead all these activities; the only hearing help they receive is from interpreters. Sue Atkins, who is one of these, said: “Our team of interpreters voice for the hearing people in the Deaf Mission’s worship services.”

Ties with FBC’s hearing congregation remain strong, as we share facilities and worship together for special services. In addition, hearing children of deaf parents participate fully in FBC’s children and youth ministries.

The congregation’s second and current pastor, Buddy Burgess, began his service in February 1998.

One of the greatest accomplishments of these 25 years is establishing awareness of this ministry in the deaf community of greater Richmond. Local college teachers and students of American Sign Language (ASL) are also aware of the Deaf Mission’s presence. The byproduct and blessing of that awareness is that as the students attend to observe and learn ASL, they also hear the Word, perhaps for the first time.

Susan HughesSusan Hughes has taught high school English for 36 years in Hanover County public schools. She joined FBC in 1985 and currently serves as deacon, youth Sunday School teacher, Church Choir member, and member of the youth ministry, scholarship, and nominating teams. She is married to John, and has two adult children, David and Ellen. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, needlework, and watching hummingbirds.

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