St. Paul M.B. Church seeks resolution for Pastor John Henry Wooden Day

Published 9:55 am Monday, January 31, 2022

A prominent member of the Bainbridge community will be retiring in March of this year. Pastor John H. Wooden, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and former Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources with the Decatur County Board of Education, will be retiring from his ministry in March, after 35 years of service. In recognition of his ministry, the St. Paul congregation will be holding a special pastor anniversary service on March 13. In addition to this service, the church has requested a resolution from the county, city, and Board of Education, as well as Sanford Bishop’s office. This resolution would recognize March 13, 2022, as “Pastor John Henry Wooden Day.”

“He’s been a tremendous asset to our community,” said Dennis Brinson, who is both a County Commissioner and assistant/youth pastor at St. Paul. “It’s a loss to our community, but everything has a season.”

Having served in public education for 30 years, ministering as a pastor for 35 years, and preaching for 38 years, Wooden felt it was time to take a step back.

“I have decided it’s time to pass that baton on, so that my wife and I can kind of enjoy the beauty of life and be a parishioner in somebody else’s congregation,” he said. “I’ve seen so many pastors who die out of the pulpit. I just wrote a book that was entitled “Leading While Bleeding”, and one of the things I talk about is taking the time to step away from ministry. Don’t die out, retire out.”

Wooden acknowledged those who have helped him come this far in his life, saying, “I recognize that I have stood on the shoulders of other people, that I have not gotten to this place where I am on my own. I’ve had great mentors, great supporters, I’ve had people who believed in me, took chances on me. So I will certainly say thank you to St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, who has really stood beside me for 35 years in pastoral ministry, and certainly thank you to all the educators, mentors, all those persons who have just been instrumental in helping me to get to the place I am.” He reiterated, “I’m full of gratitude, certainly excited about the next steps, but full of gratitude.”

Wooden also thanked his family, saying, “The one thing I will share is that, family has been everything to me, and this is what I have shared with pastors throughout this country, that when you make family your first ministry, it adds life to the work of ministry that you do. So along with thanking all of the community… I would count it robbery if I did not say thank you to my wife Deborah, and my two daughters, Chelsea and La’Shannon, and my handsome grandson Landon, who have made this journey fun and exciting.”

After his retirement, Wooden and his wife will be moving north to McDonough.