By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
Shades Mountain Baptist Church has spent the past 24 years with the Rev. Danny Wood at the helm. But a new senior pastor is coming to the church after Woods’ retirement and will be joining the staff Aug. 16.
The Rev. George Wright is joining Shades Mountain from Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where he had pastored for the past four years.
Wright and his family traveled to Birmingham June 27 to introduce themselves to parishioners, and he preached at two Sunday services.
Following the evening service, Wright and Wood sat down for a “Get to Know You” session, during which Wood spoke about his experiences, his family and his faith.
“We could not be any more excited,” Wright said. “What God has done in our family and in our lives these last few months has been a true gift from the Lord.
“We are thrilled to join the family here,” Wright added, “and we can’t wait to get started.”
Forbes said he spoke with recruiters this past winter and saw a place and a church culture that spoke to his entire family. He said, he envisioned spending many years serving and building on a facility that operates with a solid foundation in the community.
“We’re thrilled with the place God has brought us,” Steve Foster, chairman of the pastor search committee, said in a release. “It’s with great anticipation God will continue his work through Shades Mountain Baptist Church under George’s leadership.”
After Wright joined Shandon Baptist in 2016, he put racial reconciliation at the forefront of the church’s mission. He said the church sits on an “invisible line” in Columbia that divides a highly affluent community from a low-income area, and the church had a history of catering mainly to the more affluent side of town.
During his tenure, he saw a rise in diversity among parishioners shift from about 95% white to about 80% white and 20% minority.
“That has been a tremendous blessing to experience, but it also brings a lot of challenges,” Wright said. “There are a lot of opinions when you start to talk about racial reconciliation and there’s a lot of passion on all sides of this conversation. We have just sought to do everything we could to make sure that the Gospel was the center of that conversation.”
Making the move to Birmingham with Wright will be his wife of 20 years, Megan, and their four children: McKenna, 17; Brody, 15; Anna Beth, 13; and Everett, 9.
Wright’s first sermon as senior pastor of Shades Mountain is scheduled for Sept. 12.