Dr. Joe L. Ford
August 23, 1948 – July 13, 2021 Well Known Minister Passes
Dr. Joe L. Ford, formerly of Atlanta, passed away at his home in Valdosta, GA on July 13, 2021 surrounded by his family. Memorial Services will be held Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church Sanctuary and Visitation at 2:00 p.m. in the Langdale Chapel on Toombs Street side of Sanctuary. Officiating ministers are the Rev. Glenn L. Sheppard, Kansas, City, MO and Dr. Sammy Tippit, San Antonio, Texas. Carson McLane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Charlotte Cunningham, Valdosta, his son, Brandon and wife Stephanie, Dallas, GA, and his daughter, Jennifer and husband, Josh Turner, Nashville, TN. Dr Ford was very proud of his eight grandchildren, Eli, Tessa, Georgia Grace and Amelia Ford and Hampton, Colby, Marion and Hawke Turner. He is also survived by his brother, Doug and wife, Becky, three nieces, six nephews and many great nephews and nieces.
Dr. Ford was born August 23, 1948 in Fort Worth, TX to Paul and Louella Ford. He graduated from Fair Park High School, Shreveport, LA in 1966 and continued his education at East Texas Baptist College, graduating in 1970. He received the Master of Divinity in 1974 from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, followed by the Doctor of Ministry in 1978 from Southwestern.
He was licensed to preach in 1966 at Lakeshore Baptist Church, Shreveport later ordained by Lakeshore Baptist in 1971. He served Greggton First Baptist Church in Longview, TX as Youth Director, 1967-1969 and later at Lakeshore Baptist Church in 1970. He and his long-time friend, Drew Thigpen, recently deceased, led Youth Explosions and revival meetings in Oregon and Washington during the summers of 1970 and 1971.
He began full-time pastoral ministry as Pastor of Lane Baptist Church in Lane, OK from 1971- 1972 while still a seminary student. By 1972, his outstanding service and preaching ability was well recognized and he was asked to serve the Evangelism Department Associate in Youth Evangelism, Oklahoma Baptist Convention at the age of 24. It was in Oklahoma that he authored WOW – Win Our World which was adopted and expanded to be used throughout the Southern Baptist Convention for reaching and discipling young people. He served the Oklahoma Baptist Convention until 1974 when he was invited to become Director of Evangelism for Young Adults for the North American Mission Board, Atlanta, GA.
In 1977, he began serving as Adjunct Professor of Evangelism, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO. In 1979, he was named Director of Evangelism Development Dept, SBC, becoming Director of the Evangelism Section until 1982 before becoming Acting Vice President of Evangelism until 1986. For over 13 years, Dr. Ford led and gave guidance to many areas of evangelism throughout America, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
In 1986, he and his family moved to Phoenix, AZ to co-pastor North Phoenix Baptist Church with Richard Jackson, one of the largest SBC churches in America with a membership of over 18,000. From there he was called back to his hometown of Shreveport to serve Ellerbe Road Baptist Church from 1987 – 1989. The Ford family returned to the Atlanta area where he began pastoring the Oak Hill Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, GA from 1994 until 2008.
His love for helping churches develop was shown by his dedication to serving many interim churches in GA from 1975 until a few years before his death. His last field of service was the Floyd Creek Baptist Church in Cartersville, GA, retiring from active ministry to move with his wife to Valdosta to care for her parents and brother. His bright smile and warmth is treasured by those he served as well as for the sound doctrine and wisdom of his sermons. He was beloved by his church members; his memory will be treasured.
Some of his earned recognitions include the following: Who’s Who in College and Universities 1968; Outstanding Young Men in America, 1974; Men of Distinction, Dictionary of International Biography, Men of Achievement, 1979-1980; Personalities of America, Community Leader of America, 1981; President’s Award, East Texas Baptist College, 1970; W.T. Hardy Service Award, East Texas Baptist College, 1979. In 1982, Dr. Ford was named the The Southern Baptist Church Training Man of the Year.
He was the featured speaker for large numbers of state and national conferences, including over 80 Evangelism Conferences. His service to the Southern Baptist Convention includes the Summer Assemblies Committee, the Winter Olympics Committee, the In-Service Development Committee, the Bold Mission Thrust Steering Committee, the Church Base Design Committee and the Student Missions Advisory Group.
His speaking, teaching, writing, pastoral and missional service spanned over 55 years with his major focus being prayer, discipleship, evangelism, and revival. He is the author of the book, Equipping the Layperson in Lifestyle Evangelism through the Equipping Module for Evangelism in Church Training and co-author of Discipleship Now and Discipleship II. He wrote numerous articles for Baptist Publications, including Sunday School Leadership, Contempo, The Baptist Program, Equipping Youth, Come Alive, Care, The Student, Baptist Youth, The Youth Disciple Lifestyle Witnessing and many other publications. His materials are still in demand.
His extensive travels included many nations, including Mexico, Bermuda, Israel, Canada, Germany, Austria, Romania, Hungary, Nepal, Thailand, Cuba, Costa Rica, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Kenya, Switzerland, Egypt, England and Turkey. Dr. Ford was respected in the business world as his influence and mentoring reached way beyond Baptist circles. As a business conference speaker and business builder, he was able to reach people for Christ beyond the church walls, mentoring hundreds of men and women.
He served on the Board for Sammy Tippit Ministries for 30 years, with 27 of those years as Chairman. He served as a Board Member for International Prayer Ministries for over 35 years, serving as Vice President and later as Executive Director. While serving as Executive Director, he developed and began implementation of a strategic plan called Pray Now America calling churches across denominational lines to join in praying for our nation. Dr. Ford also served the Global Missions Resource Group, Inc. founded by the late C.B. Hogue as Vice President. He was a past board member and past Vice President of the Board of Directors of Church and Ministry Finances International.
Joe’s favorite scripture, and the verse he lived was Galatians 2:20:
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.
Our loss here on earth is Heaven’s Gain. Dr. Joe L. Ford, simply “Joe” to those who knew him, will be greatly missed by not only his beloved family but by thousands who knew and respected him. His service to God and the many people he touched is captured in a poem that Joe wrote many years ago:
What It Is to Care
What a man receives, he must share,
If he truly understands what it is to care. For this alone can cause the bare
To see the light of Love shine bright and fair.
What a man has, he must prepare,
If he truly understands what it is to care. For the world awaits those who dare
To believe in the hope for men everywhere.
What a man discovers, he must declare If he truly understands what it is to care, For The Master had a cross to bear
To show He understood what it is to care.
The family has requested that Memorial Gifts be made to Sammy Tippit Ministries, P.O. Box 700368 San Antonio, TX 78270 and to International Prayer Ministries, 705B SE Melody Lane, #343 Lee’s Summit, MO 64034.