Association of Greater Baton Rouge
Director of Missions
Tommy Middleton became the new director
in August 2011. Dr. Middleton comes to
the Association from Woodlawn Baptist
Church in Baton Rouge where he recently
completed his 24th year as
Middleton began his ministry in 1972
where he served as Minister of Music and
Youth at New Salem Baptist Church in
Caledonia, MS. He completed his music
education degree at Mississippi State
University in 1976 while serving as
interim pastor of Kolola Springs Baptist
Church also of Caledonia. In 1977, Dr.
Middleton became the pastor of Halbert
Heights Baptist Church in Brookhaven, MS
while completing his theological
education at New Orleans Baptist
Theological Seminary earning a Master of
Divinity in 1979 and Doctor of Theology
serving at Woodlawn Baptist Church, Dr.
Middleton’s ministry emphasized
evangelism and world missions where he
and members of the congregation brought
the Gospel message to over 22 different
countries. Dr. Middleton has
served as, an adjunct professor of New
Testament for New Orleans Theological
Seminary in Baton Rouge, a member
of the Executive Committee of the
Southern Baptist Convention, and a
member of the Executive Board for the
Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Middleton married his college sweetheart
Karen Mitchell in 1975. They have
three grown children, all of whom
graduated from LSU – Christopher,
Michael and Jenny. They are the proud
grandparents of four grandchildren.
2011 -Middleton leaves Woodlawn Baptist to
take BAGBR's reins
BY MARK H.
longtime pastor of Woodlawn Baptist
Church, the Rev. Tommy G. Middleton,
took the reins of the Baptist
Association of Greater Baton Rouge on
replaces the association's previous
executive director, the Rev. Rodrick E.
Conerly, who suffered a fatal heart
attack a few days before Christmas 2010,
at the age of 61.
third-generation preacher, Middleton,
57, preached his last service as pastor
at the 1,200-member Woodlawn Baptist on
Sunday, July 24.
loved serving this church, and we've
loved the people here since the very
beginning," Middleton said during a
Late-July interview at the church. "It's
been a great experience here."
association is a group of 108 Southern
Baptist Convention churches, affiliated
missions and organizations including the
Gonzales Seaman's Center, the LSU
Baptist Colle-giate Ministry and the
Judson Retreat Center in St.
quarter-century career at Woodlawn
Baptist, Middleton was deeply involved
with the association and is familiar
with its mission, he said. Over the
years he mentored about 50 young men who
went into the ministry, a practice he
plans to continue.
"We have a
new generation of some outstanding young
pastors in this town," Middleton said.
"My desire is to nurture them and get
out of the way and let them do what God
has gifted them to do."
is by Jan 1 to meet every pastor of
every church for breakfast or lunch,"
Middleton said. "I'll probably be the
size of Texas by the time I'm done."
goals include a missions conference Jan.
22 featuring International Missions
Board President Tom Elliff, getting more
churches into summer youth camping
pro-grams, combining some declining
churches and energizing a half-dozen
churches that have plateaued in
churches, he said, have become "a cruise
ship rather than being a rescue vessel.
Once you start cruising, you start
snoozing and you start dying. But when
you are in a rescue mode, it keeps the
church vibrant and fresh."
Dennis Allen, 65, the association's
assistant director since 2008, has been
acting executive director since
Conerly's death. He left at the end of
August to spend more time ministering to
Fordoche Baptist Church and pursue
mission trips to Native Americans out
Middleton is the right man for this
job," Allen said. "He has the
experience, integrity and reputation. He
knows everybody and everybody respects
David Goza, 38, senior pastor at the
1,500-member Jefferson Baptist, was
chairman of the association's search
members wanted a man who would be "a
pastor to our pastors" and found that in
Middleton, Goza said. "He has a heart
for cooperative mission work and has a
wealth of wisdom and knowledge."
Jim Efferson, pastor of the 110-member
Indian Mound Baptist Church in Greenwell
Springs, is the association's moderator,
or chairman of the council. "He's going
to be real serious about promoting
missions, both foreign and home, and
help the churches that are in decline,"
was born and raised in Bruce, Miss., the
son, grandson and nephew of Baptist
preachers. He is also the father of a
pastor, the Rev. Michael Middleton, 32,
who is worship leader at Second Baptist
Church in Houston.
was baptized at the age of 7, but said
he never actually converted until late
one Friday night in 1972, his senior
year in high school.
be a baptized Baptist and still go to
hell, and I was a baptized Baptist," he
said. "My mother asked, 'Tommy Gwin, are
you lost?' I said, "yes, ma'am, I'm
night he prayed the sinner's prayer -
confessing his sins and accepting Jesus
as Savior - with his parents. A few
months later he went into the ministry
as a guitar-playing song leader at a
small, country church.
attended Mississippi State University,
where he earned a degree in music
education. He also met the university's
Miss MSU and married her. "Karen is the
joy of my life," Middleton said. "She is
my best friend."
to preach was a gradual thing, he said,
because he was already leading the
mu-sic and youth programs at a small
church. Then one day in 1974, in the
back of a bookstore where he worked part
time, "I got on my knees and I said
'al-right God, I'll do whatever you want
me to do.'
was saved, there was a great sense of
peace, but when I surrendered to preach
there was an incredible sense of joy,"
Karen were married in 1975. He attended
New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary, then pastored at Halber
Heights Baptist in Brookhaven, Miss.,
for 11 years before being called to
Woodlawn in November 1987.
Middletons have three grown children.
The oldest son, Christopher Middleton,
34, is married to Andrea, and lives in
Baton Rouge. Michael Middleton, 32, the
worship pastor at 55,000-member Second
Baptist in Houston, is not married.
Daughter, Jenny Iverstine, 30, and her
husband, Wade, a local lawyer, have a
2-year-old daughter, Gweneth Rose.
Tommy Middleton's time at Woodlawn, the
church tripled in membership as he
emphasized local evangelism and
worldwide missions. The congregation
sponsored seven mission trips to India
and more than a dozen missions to Mexico
and other Central American countries.
Woodlawn founded the Riverbend Mission
church in an old bar at the end of Hoo
Shoo Too Road near the Mississippi
River. "The place that used to be the
den of iniquity became a house of
worship," Middleton said.
Dr. Middleton’s contact
The Baptist Association of Greater Baton