Pastor’s joy comes from ‘All those moments wrapped up in one’
Rich Balkcom, pastor of Southway Baptist Church in Brookhaven, received his call to the ministry while attending a youth camp in Florida as a seventh-grade student.
He was living in Georgia and had broken his ankle playing basketball the first day of camp. Balkcom decided to stay at camp and “ride it out” instead of going home.
“On the second to last night of camp, I felt God calling me to do something great for his kingdom,” Balkcom said.
“A counselor told me to call my mother and tell her about it. She told me that God had told her I would be in ministry when I was in her womb. She never told me because she didn’t want to pressure me. But there were a lot of God things that were confirmation.”
Balkcom is an ordained minister and a licensed professional counselor.
He and his wife Andrea are the parents of eight children.
The couple met in Atlanta while attending college and working at the same retail store. They married and had a toddler and a baby when they moved to Brookhaven. Balkcom has been with Southway Baptist for 17 years.
Balkcom had been in the last year of his internship at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminar when Mike Reed, a Christian counselor, invited Balkcom to join his private practice in Brookhaven.
Southway Baptist needed a youth pastor in 2003. Balkcom took the position and was named pastor in October 2006.
Balkcom, a licensed professional counselor, has since opened his own practice, Revelation Counseling Center. He offers counseling on marriage and family issues, addiction and an assortment of disorders and issues.
He has a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree and a Doctor of Ministry, both from the New Orleans seminary.
In addition to private practice and his pastor’s position, Balkcom has a contract for counseling services with the Brookhaven School District.
Having a counseling background is beneficial in ministry, Balkcom said.
“I do a lot of counseling as a pastor, and some pastors refer people to me,” he said.
Relationships are what he enjoys most about leading Southway Baptist.
“It’s the time you have with people during the really good times and the really tough times,” he said.
“It’s being there with a family who has lost a loved one and showing them compassion and love during that raw time. It’s times of celebrations like weddings, a baptismal, seeing God working in a child’s heart and watching them come down the aisle to accept Jesus.
“All those moments wrapped up in one.”
Balkcom enjoys hunting and fishing with his family and has a tradition of having the family together for breakfast before everyone starts their day.
The couple’s oldest child, Madeline, is 20 and a student at Mississippi College.
Their other children are Elizabeth, 17; Katherine, 14; Hannah Elaine, 11; Victoria, 9; Issac, 7; Luke, 5; and, Owen, 2.
Balkcom’s favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Story by Robin Eyman