Steve Hammack is the senior pastor at Anchor Baptist Church in Loganville. He and his family have been in this area and neighboring DeKalb County for many years, and Hammack has seen a lot of changes during that time. Married for 31 years to his wife Donna, Hammack is also the father of two grown children, a son and a daughter.
For four years when the children were teenagers, the Hammack family lived in an RV and traveled with Life Action Ministries before founding Anchor Baptist Church. Steve took a few moments to reflect on what he's seen and experienced since making the decision to enter the ministry back in 1975.
Q: How long have you been a pastor?
A: I've been in ministry since 1975, then in Atlanta at Mountain View First Baptist church on a part-time basis. I went to Georgia State, then attended seminary out in Texas. In 1980, I began working full-time in ministry, so I've been doing this for about 28 years.
Q: How (and when) did you know that this is what you wanted to do as your life's work?
A: I was on a mission trip with the Papago Indians in Arizona in 1975; July 4, in fact. I was planning to be a veterinarian, but God got a hold of me on that mission trip.
Q: What is the significance of the name of your church?
A: Anchor comes from Hebrews 6:19: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain."
Early Christians used the sign of the anchor more than any other symbol archaeologists found in catacombs, even more than the cross.
Q: Who would you say was the greatest influence on you and your choice?
A: No human being. It was definitely the Lord changing my direction. The man who discipled me in Forest Park, Jack Fordham, greatly influenced my life, but not necessarily toward ministry.
Q: What would you say is the most challenging thing about your job?
A: Times have changed so much, even since I've been pastoring. There are so many hurts. Equipping the saints to really learn how to do ministry is a difficult thing to do.
Q: What do you mean?
A: The role of the pastor is to do that: equip the people of the church to do the ministry. It's easier to prepare a Sunday message than it is to pour your life into somebody.
Another challenge is building a bridge to interact with our unchurched culture. It's not 1955 and "Andy Griffith" any more.
Q: What's the most rewarding thing?
A: Seeing peoples' lives change. Seeing people set free in Christ and learning how to walk in that freedom - in marriage, parenting, everything.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a young person considering entering the ministry, what would it be?
A: First, I do believe God is sovereign. He has a plan for each of our lives. You have to come to a place where you're willing to surrender to whatever He has for you. Ministry as a vocation is definitely something that God gifts us for. He gifted me as a pastor and teacher.
There's an inner compulsion to keep doing this. If you can see yourself doing anything else, do it. If you keep coming back to this, then you're truly called.
Q: Who would you most like to meet, and why?
A: The apostle Paul, because I have theological questions I'd like to ask him. He was an impactful man. Now, if I had to name someone who's more contemporary, probably A.W. Tozer, a writer and theologian.
Q: If you had to name one thing that's changed the most in Gwinnett's religious trends over the years, what would it be?
A: There are so many things - there's a move from a traditional style of worship to contemporary. The old adage of just going to a local church has changed. People will drive 45 minutes to find a place that meets their needs.
And obviously, Gwinnett is totally different culturally. I pastored for seven years in DeKalb, and we went through a transition like this. We had multiple services in our building to accommodate different cultural groups. It's more international, multicultural.
One of the philosophical things that's changed is that, I believe the latest figure I've heard anyway, is that 72 percent of people will say they believe in God. But then we hear "There is no absolute truth; it's all relative." That raises a lot of challenges.
Q: What is your favorite scripture?
A: Gal 2:20 is my life verse. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
A theme of my teaching through the years is the "exchanged life." He's the one who changes us, empowers us. It's a liberating truth.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to let our readers know about your church?
A: Anchor is a church of small groups. We meet for worship on Sunday mornings, but we're spread out throughout all of Gwinnett in peoples' homes. We are committed to ministering to the whole family. We've been tagged in the past as being a home-school church, but we have a lot of public and Christian school families.
Anchor Baptist Church is located at 451 Ozora Road in Loganville. For more information, call 770-554-2250, or visit www.anchorholds.org.
Each week, the Daily Post profiles a different religious leader in Gwinnett. If you have a suggestion on who we should profile next, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.