Austin #039;cutting my teeth#039; as new pastor at Morning Star Baptist Church

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The newly elected pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Troy, laughingly, refers to himself as "a kid in big clothes."

After a few minutes with Roland Austin, it is apparent that he has a youthful enthusiasm that could be very contagious.

That enthusiasm should work to his advantage as he comes to Morning Star Missionary Baptist will great expectations.

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"This is my first church and I'll be cutting my teeth here," Austin said, with a chuckle. "But, very soon, I want our church to be the fastest growing church, not just in Troy, but in the state."

That's a tall order for a new pastor, but Austin views it as both a challenge and an opportunity.

"The opportunity is for discipleship," Austin said. "That's what my coming here is all about


discipleship. It seems that the community needs a discipleship focus. That's a opportunity and a challenge - a challenge that will take time, effort and accountability."

Austin said a strong youth focus is vital to any ministry and it will be to his.

He considers himself a teacher and said teaching the truth in Troy for the world will also be a focus of his ministry.

Teaching the truths, as set forth in the Bible, will provide the guidelines for Christian living for Austin's congregation.

The biblical truths have been Austin's road maps for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss. and in the Baptist church.

As a youngster, Austin's family and friends recognized leadership qualities in him that he didn't recognize.

"I grew up in the church and the ministry was always thought - by family and friends - to be my calling - my destiny," Austin said. "Everyone thought it would just be a matter of time before it came to fruition."

If he had been perfectly honest with himself, Austin probably would have realized the calling to the ministry himself.

"I was more than a choir boy," he said. "I was very active in Sunday school. I taught Bible courses and I was pretty good at doing it, even at age 11 and 12."

If Austin heard the calling he didn't acknowledge it.

He kept saying, "Not now. I've got other things to do."

"My family and friends kept saying 'He's going to be a preacher,' but they didn't turn water to wine, so I didn't listen," he said, laughing.

Austin was held back from the "calling" because of his selfish aspirations "to do this and do that," he said.

However, when he became involved in a campus ministry at the University of Southern Mississippi, he could deny the calling no longer.

"I was pursuing a degree in accounting, but I realized that the ministry was my true calling," he said.

He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1998 and moved to Atlanta "for a change of venue" in 1999. There he worked as a sales analyst and enjoyed sales, but realized his calling was "selling Jesus."

While working with the young people in a church in his parents' hometown, Tuskegee, the Rev. C.P. Noble told Austin that "some folks in Troy were without a pastor."

"I came and spoke at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church and they invited me back, he said. "Now, I'm back as their pastor. I am looking forward to being the pastor."