After 17 years, Welch leaves First Baptist

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Gordon Welch will serve as the music minister of First Baptist Church on Lauderdale Street for the last Sunday today.

Welch resigned as minister of music Dec. 16 and accepted a job as a teacher certification officer at Judson College in Marion.

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His responsibilities as music minister officially end Dec. 31, and Welch will begin his new post Jan. 2.

Welch served at Shiloh Baptist Church in Sardis prior to coming to First Baptist Church and along with wife, Elaine, has been in the area for about 25 years.

&8220;We wanted to stay in Selma. We have many good friends here,&8221; Welch said.

As a teacher certification officer, Welch will be responsible for making sure education majors meet their requirements to graduate, and will act as a liaison between Judson and the state Board of Education to make sure graduates obtain their certification to teach. He will also assist the education faculty of Judson College by performing other duties.

&8220;We love the people at First Baptist, and they love us. It was hard to leave, but I just knew in my heart that it was time for me to go. They have been very accepting of it…a lot of tears have been shed. It has been an emotional time for me, my family, as well as personal friends and choir members who have been close to us these 17 years.

&8220;We’re excited that the Lord opened up a door for us to remain in Selma,&8221; Welch said.

&8220;We had hoped that He would see fit for us to stay here.&8221;

As music minister, Welch was responsible for arranging and leading rehearsals and selecting music for the sanctuary and youth choirs and handbell program. There were also administrative duties that included visiting newcomers, the sick, and the bereaved.

Welch grew up in Florala, and received his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Montevallo.

He taught school for three years before he felt called to church music, Welch said. He served at two churches, one of them Shiloh Baptist, before he went to seminary.

He received a master’s degree in church music from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Since coming to First Baptist on the heels of his mentor, Welch immersed himself in the community, making many friends along the way.

He played in a comb chorus with Kathryn Tucker Windham, and was a part of the 60th anniversary of Handel’s &8220;Messiah,&8221; an experience he treasures.

He and his wife plan to take time in January to visit the churches of friends, and see what the future holds.