New First Baptist Church of Covington Pastor Cody McNutt is shown here with his wife, Sally, and children, from left, Elise Marie, 3, Anna Claire, 1, and Laine Elizabeth, 5. (Special Photo)
He is not the youngest pastor to lead the historic 191-year-old church, but at 33, Cody McNutt is in the top two. The father of three young children has become the new senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Covington located on Usher Street just off the downtown square.
It takes a young man to lead this busy congregation, if for no other reason than because he preaches all three services on Sunday mornings. The church has a traditional worship service at 8:15 a.m. followed by a contemporary service at 10:30 and a second traditional service at 10:45. McNutt preaches all three and explains how he is able to cover the last two.
“I preach at the beginning of the contemporary then run over to the other building and get there just in time to preach the traditional,” he said.
Serving as senior pastor does indeed keep him busy, but McNutt said he and his family are excited to be in this new ministry post where he preaches to around 600 people every Sunday morning.
“I’m thrilled to be at the First Baptist Church of Covington and in Newton County,” he said. “We have one of the best churches around and I want to invite everyone to come visit us.”
Since his first Sunday as FBC’s senior pastor in November, McNutt has been getting to know the members of his congregation and searching for a home for his young family. He said they have found a house and hope to close on it on Valentine’s Day.
Married since 2007, McNutt met his wife Sally through mutual friends in Louisville, Ky. They are the parents of three young daughters, Laine Elizabeth, 5; Elise Marie, 3 and Anna Claire, 1.
A native of West Memphis, Ark., McNutt grew up just across the river from Memphis, Tenn. He went to the University of Arkansas and received a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in religious studies.
He moved to Louisville, Ky., where he began working on his master of divinity degree and became the pastor of New Heights Baptist Church. McNutt received both his master’s and doctorate of philosophy degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
Growing up in the First Baptist Church of West Memphis, McNutt was active in the youth group and said at the age of 15 or 16, he began “dabbling in some preaching.”
“I was not really knowing what preaching was at the time, but I felt gifted and skilled to do it,” he said. “I went to the University of Arkansas and planned on majoring in industrial engineering and going to law school, but God had other plans.”
McNutt said he was a freshman in college on Feb. 3, 2000, when God made it clear to him that he wanted the young man to give his all to the ministry.
“As a freshman in college, I surrendered my life to preach,” he said.
He began his religious studies classes and got involved in the church near his school and in Campus Crusade for Christ. Every summer he did some type of ministry, either interning at his home church or taking part in mission trips. One such trip found him ministering in Bangkok, Thailand for eight weeks. Each step led him closer to seminary, he said.
Receiving his Ph.D. in 2012, McNutt, continued to pastor New Heights Baptist Church in Louisville, where he served as pastor for eight years prior to receiving the call from FBC Covington.
“Our church is growing,” McNutt said. “People are coming. There’s an excitement about all the ministries we have. God is continuing to do some really good things in our church.”
An expository preacher, McNutt says he enjoys taking a book of the Bible and preaching it verse by verse. He is good-natured about his young age and said prior to his call, the church did a survey which found the majority wanted a pastor in the mid-30s to 40s age group.
“I came in just under that, but they’ve suffered through it,” he said with a laugh.
McNutt said he wants to connect with his congregation.
“I want them to see me as somebody who is real,” he said. “I don’t want to be just a talking figurehead they see on Sunday mornings.”
The pastor said since his arrival at FBC Covington, he has sought to build a ministry centered on God, the Bible and one that makes Jesus the focal point of “every sermon we preach, song we sing, program we begin and dollar we spend.”
“We are not just people of faith,” he said. “We are Christians.”
“We must view God biblically,” continued McNutt. “Our view of God should be big because what we think about God is of primary importance and will affect how we view everything else in life and ministry.”
The pastor said the Bible is a “treasure.”
“The inspired, inerrant and infallible Scriptures should be the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice for us, both as individuals and as a church,” he said. “We should be a people who love and cherish the Word of God and who allows it to mold, shape, refine, convict, challenge and encourage us daily.”
In addition, the pastor encourages his congregation to reach out to the community.
“We must love others,” he said. “…As we build a family among ourselves, we should be passionate about sharing the love of Christ both with those in our community and around the world.”
McNutt said the community is invited to a “Grow” conference the church will host Feb. 15 and 16, entitled “Deeper with God in Prayer.” The church will also once again host Easter on the Square on Easter morning at 10 a.m.
More information on those events and other FBC activities can be found at the church website www.firstbaptistcovington.com.
Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.