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Second-Ponce de Leon names new senior pastor
by Staff Reports
September 12, 2013 02:32 PM | 2916 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Neil “Dock” Hollingsworth Jr.
James Neil “Dock” Hollingsworth Jr.
Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Buckhead recently voted unanimously to select the Rev. James Neil “Dock” Hollingsworth Jr. as its seventh pastor, the church announced Thursday in a news release.

He replaces the Rev. David Sapp, who retired in April 2012 after spending 13 years at the helm. Hollingsworth’s first Sunday in the pulpit of the 159-year-old Peachtree Road church will be Sept. 22.

“Second-Ponce has a long history of missions and leadership in Christian life in Atlanta,” said John Kerr, chairman of the senior pastor search committee. “I feel Dr. Hollingsworth is the right person to lead us into the next chapter of this history.”

When Hollingsworth came to Second-Ponce de Leon as interim preacher 15 months ago, he did not anticipate eventually serving as senior pastor. He had served as interim pastor at nine different congregations over the past 12 years.

Hollingsworth also worked at Mercer University’s Macon and Atlanta campuses for the past 18 years. He was assistant dean and assistant professor of leadership and supervised ministry at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology. He was also executive director for The Center for Teaching Churches. Prior to his time at Mercer, Hollingsworth served in churches in North Carolina and Georgia.    

“I fully thought I would retire at McAfee but the energy and possibility of this place has captured my imagination, and by God’s grace it would not let me go,” Hollingsworth said of Second-Ponce de Leon.

Hollingsworth and his wife of 29 years, Melissa, welcome this next step in their lives and ministry.

“After 18 years of an itinerant church ministry, Melissa and I are eager to settle into a community and invest our lives with this group of people,” he said.

Deacon Chairman Alex McDonald, who also served on the senior pastor search committee, added, “Dock has such a friendly and approachable personality. He invites everyone he comes across into authentic relationships. As our senior pastor, Dock will serve as a great leader and model for building deep and positive relationships across the congregation.

“Dock has spent years teaching and mentoring young ministers, and has also guided several churches through major transitions. His ability to equip others to face the challenges and uncertainties of the future with intentional action and love is truly remarkable, and I look forward to his leadership at Second-Ponce de Leon.”

As a teen growing up in the Atlanta area, Hollingsworth attended special events at Second-Ponce de Leon with his high school friends. While at Mercer University for his undergraduate work, several of his college friends attended Second-Ponce de Leon. Hollingsworth received his master’s degree in divinity from The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. In 2008, he completed the doctorate in ministry program at McAfee.

Hollingsworth serves on the board of the Lord’s Day Alliance of North America and The Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. He and Melissa are the parents of adult twins. Their daughter, Haley, is married to Chris Clement and they live in Chicago. Their son, Brendan, works for Marriott in Macon.

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