By Bob Allen
A Mercer University administrator who transferred from Macon, Ga., to Atlanta to recruit the first entering class when McAfee School of Theology opened in 1996, is new pastor at the city’s Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church.
Dock Hollingsworth, who has taught leadership and supervised ministry at McAfee since 2007, begins Sept. 22 at the 159-year-old congregation identified with both Southern Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He served as interim pastor of the high-profile congregation located in Atlanta’s Buckhead district for 15 months after previous pastor David Sapp retired in April 2012.
Hollingsworth also has served as McAfee’s assistant dean and as executive director of The Center for Teaching Churches, a program to support graduates as they transition into ministry established with a Lilly Endowment grant. He worked a combined 18 years at Mercer’s Macon campus and in Atlanta, where he openned the admissions office for the CBF-partner James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology established in 1994 with a $10 million gift from a fortune earned in the health care management business.
Hollingsworth graduated from Mercer before receiving his M.Div. degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree at McAfee in 2008. Before working at Mercer he served in churches in North Carolina and Georgia.
“Second-Ponce has a long history of missions and leadership in Christian life in Atlanta,” John Kerr, senior pastor search committee chair, said in a press release. “I feel Dr. Hollingsworth is the right person to lead us into the next chapter of this history.”
Hollingsworth, who has served as interim pastor of numerous churches over the years, said he thought Second-Ponce would be just one more. “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,” he said.
Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church formed in a 1932 merger of Ponce de Leon Avenue Baptist Church, constituted in 1904, and Second Baptist Church, established in 1854. Both congregations got their starts as missions of First Baptist Church, which was launched in the then-tiny railroad town of Atlanta in 1848 and is now a multi-site mega-church led by former Southern Baptist Convention President Charles Stanley.