Jay Wolf reflects on 32 years at First Baptist Montgomery

Jay Wolf retires as longtime Montgomery First Baptist lead pastor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Dr. Jay Wolf, longtime pastor of Montgomery’s First Baptist Church, preached his final sermon Sunday as head pastor after 32 years of service to the church and the community.

Wolf announced his retirement from the head pastor position back in September.

“I’m retiring because the Lord has called me into a new phase of ministry,” Wolf said in a one-on-one interview with WSFA 12 News.

Wolf says while he will no longer be lead pastor, he will be a ministry entrepreneur. “So, I have the same purpose, but I will assume a new role,” Wolf added.

Wolf says he fell in love with First Baptist Church and the city in 1981. After attending seminary in New Orleans, he was asked to come and be the associate pastor. Years later, a 17-member search committee decided Wolf was the right person to lead the congregation.

Wolf said one of the reasons he was drawn back to Montgomery was because the church had remained downtown.

“We hadn’t run away from the downtown problems. We had stayed at our post,” Wolf said. “Montgomery, east and west meet in the downtown and I wanted First Baptist to be that meeting place where we became a place that is welcome to all people.”

Wolf says his vision for First Baptist has always been to connect God to his people.

“All kinds of people, red, yellow, black and white, tall, small, rich, poor, it makes no difference. Highbrow, lowbrow, unibrow, makes no difference. God is for everybody,” Wolf said.

Wolf said he is indebted to the church and the body of Christ for helping himself raise a godly family.

“I have been blessed beyond imagination. I have lived in a free candy factory, because God’s blessings to me have been so sweet.”

Wolf also reflected on his role as lead pastor, with over 10,000 hospital visits and hundreds of weddings and funerals.

“I’ve helped people dedicate their babies and bury their parents. Ministry is so rich and full because you’re invited into somebody’s private family circle. It’s as if I’m a family member.”

Wolf said navigating the church through the pandemic has been quite a journey.

“It’s astonishing how many people have joined us from all over everywhere, thousands of people, and we’ve seen many, many people give their life to Christ,” Wolf added. “So, our church has been anything but closed. It’s been wide open.”

Wolf said his next role will be to continue to do what he has always done; serve Jesus.

“I will not change purposes, I’ll just change positions, and continue to be a kingdom entrepreneur, I’ll be on mission for the Lord. I’ll tell my story to his glory. I’ll be a witness for him,” Wolf added.

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