All pastors have both a life and a ministry. Here are mine.
A LITTLE ABOUT MYSELF...
My full name is Cleo Eugene (Jack) Jackson, III; but mostly I go by "Pastor Jack". I am privileged to be the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lenoir City, Tennessee, where I have served since 2001. I was born at what was then Crawford Long Hospital (now Emory University Midtown Hospital) in Atlanta, Georgia on October 26, 1961, and grew up on a farm in what was then rural Fayette County, Georgia. I attended the public school system where I met my future wife, Vickie Brackin, in the tenth grade. The two of us graduated together in 1979. Apart from my relationship with Almighty God through His son, Jesus Christ, I value my relationship with my beautiful wife above all other things in this world.
After high school, I attended Mercer University where I pursued and received my Bachelor of Arts degree, with a double major in Philosophy and Religion. During my sophomore year of college, I was licensed to the profession of Christian ministry. I later graduated, one week before my marriage to Vickie in June of 1983. Thereafter, the two of us moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where I pursued a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. I was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1985. Following graduation in June of 1986, I began my professional ministry career back in my home state of Georgia.
At this time, my wife, Vickie, and I were blessed with three wonderful children, each about two years apart: daughter Andrea (better known as Andie), son Caleb, and son Micah. Over the next seven years, I worked on staff at two different churches - one as a Student Pastor for two years, and the other as an Administrative and Educational Pastor for five years. During this time, I also pursued my Doctor of Ministry degree, graduating from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in June of 1993. Later, I undertook additional studies at Oxford University in England in 1999 and then again at Cambridge University in England in 2009.
My first pastorate was in south Georgia for three years; and my second was in north Georgia for five years. In 2001, my family and I moved to Lenoir City, Tennessee, where I became the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church. My wife, Vickie, and I have resided in Lenoir City, Tennessee ever since.
Our daughter, Andrea, is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. She now lives in the Nashville area with her husband, Billy, who, also a graduate of the Aerospace program at Middle Tennessee State University, is an Air Traffic Controller for the Federal Aviation Administration. God has blessed them with a wonderful little boy, who is the apple his grandfather's eye! Andie, as she is affectionately known, has always been very athletic, and was a multisport athlete in high school. She played second base on her high school softball team, which won a TSSAA State Championship in her sophomore year.
Caleb, our oldest son, likewise graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. He studied in the Aerospace Program. Currently, he lives in east Tennessee where he works in the aviation industry as a pilot. He likes hunting, fishing, scuba diving, motorcycling, and weightlifting. His wife, Whitney, is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Lincoln Memorial University who now teaches school here in East Tennessee.
Micah, our youngest son, also graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. His degree is from the College of Business Administration in the area of Finance. He works in the field accounting; and his wife, Jordan, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University as well, is a registered nurse. The two of them live in the greater Knoxville area and are expecting a little boy later this year. He will be loved by his grandfather every bit as much as his little cousin already is. Micah enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, reading, and fitness, and has competed successfully in amateur bodybuilding.
I have always believed strongly in involvement in the local community. To this end, I have served in leadership roles in several civic clubs, including terms as President of the Lenoir City Rotary Club and as President of the Lenoir City Civitan Club. I have also served on the Boards of numerous community service organizations. Among them are: the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County, the Boys and Girls Club of Loudon County, Hope Resource (Crisis Pregnancy) Center of greater Knoxville, and the Loudon County Literacy Council, the latter of which I served as President. I am also a graduate of Leadership Loudon County - class of 2012, and have participated as a Facilitator for succeeding classes in this same program.
Before moving to Loudon County, I previously served in Board positions and/or Chaired the following organizations in other communities: the local Ministerial Association, the local Salvation Army Advisory Council, the local Family Connection Council, the local Habitat for Humanity Board, the local American Cancer Society Board, the local American Heart Association Board, and the local Chamber of Commerce.
I have further served the community through involvement as a Reader in the public school system for such programs as the “Dr. Seuss’ Read Across America Program”, the “Accelerated Reader” Reading Program, and the “C.A.R.E.” Reading Program for elementary school students. Additionally, I have served as a volunteer coach for Pop Warner League Football, Little League Boys Baseball, Little League Girls Softball, and both Girls and Boys Recreation Department Basketball teams.
In addition to community service, I have also been involved in denominational activities in the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the denomination I serve. I have held several leadership roles at local Associational level, State level, and national Convention level entities and organizations within the Southern Baptist Convention, including that of Committee member, Commission member, Executive Board member, Moderator, and both Hospital and Seminary Trustee.
I believe very strongly in the cause of higher education and have served in a number of capacities to advance this cause. I currently serve as the Director and as an Adjunct Professor for the East Tennessee Extension Center of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a program of study offering Master of Divinity and Master of Arts Degrees to qualified ministers who, already holding a Bachelor's Degree, are presently serving in local churches and thus unable to move to the Seminary's home campus in Louisville, Kentucky in order to pursue higher theological education. (This program of study is fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission.)
I have also been involved in various extended ministries in the past, including broadcasting (for three separate radio devotional programs), chaplaincy (for both hospital and local government entities), and conference and retreat speaking in various venues. I have always had aspirations to write, and am currently pursuing this interest professionally as a component of my ministry.
Throughout my career, I have been a member of several professional organizations, including the “American Association of Christian Counselors” and the “National Association of Church Business Administration”. Academic organizations with which I have been affiliated include the “Biblical Archaeology Society”, the “Society of Biblical Literature”, the “Evangelical Philosophical Society”, the “Evangelical Theological Society”, the “American Academy of Religion”, the “American Schools of Oriental Research”, the “Palestine Exploration Fund”, the “Israel Exploration Society”, the “Near Eastern Archaeological Society”, and the “Intercollegiate Studies Institute”. I have also been a member of both the “William Tennent Society” of Princeton Theological Society and the “Century Society” of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
My hobbies include learning about history, especially the study of archaeology and antiquity. (In fact, while I cannot be sure; I am inclined to think that the History Channel was conceived of with me in mind!) My wife, Vickie, and I have travelled extensively throughout most of the continental U.S.A., including Alaska. We have also been abroad to Canada (for three trips), the Bahamas, several Caribbean Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Overseas travel has included three trips to Egypt, three to Israel, two trips each to England, Holland, India, and Italy, and one trip each to France, Germany, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey. During my pastorates, the churches I have served have undertaken mission trips to Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, France, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Moldova, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Thailand, and Venezuela.
In addition to travel, I also enjoy the outdoors. My sons and I are avid fishermen, of both fresh and salt water species. (Micah outdid us all when he caught and released a ten foot hammerhead shark a few years back.) We also enjoy both bird hunting (dove and pheasant) and big game hunting (whitetail and mule deer and pronghorn antelope), and have undertaken several trips for this purpose. Among my prized trophies is also a sizeable black bear which I harvested in Canada. Other leisure activities I enjoy include weightlifting, motorcycling, drawing, and reading.
Honors I have received include being selected for inclusion in American MENSA, as well as the following recognitions: “Outstanding Young Men of America”; “Marquis’ Who’s Who in Religion”; “Paul Harris Fellow” from Rotary International Foundation; “William David Ghormley Rotarian of the Year” award for 2005 from the Lenoir City Rotary Club; and membership in the following: the “President’s Council” of Civitan International Foundation; the “Legacy Society” of Civitan International Foundation; the “Alexander Graham Bell Legacy Society” of the National Geographic Society; and the “Legion of Honor” of the National Rifle Association. I have also been a member of both the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association and the Tennessee Police Federation, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, Ft. Loudoun Area Lodge Number 21.
I was honored to serve as Chaplain for the Georgia State Senate during the 1997 Session. In 2012, I was equally honored to serve as "Minister of the Day" for the Tennessee State House of Representatives. I was made a "Lieutenant Colonel, Aide De Camp, Governor’s Staff" by the State of Georgia in 1991. In 2007, I received the official designation of "Honorary Tennessean" from the Governor’s Office of the State of Tennessee. I greatly value these last two recognitions, one each from both my home and my adoptive states.
A LITTLE OF MY FAMILY'S HISTORY...
Name: Cleo Eugene “Jack” Jackson, III (Me)
Born: 10/26/1961, Atlanta, Georgia
Profession: Protestant Christian Minister (Southern Baptist Convention)
Wife: Vickie Denisha Brackin (Personal Genealogy listed at:
Children: Daughter: Andrea Danile Jackson Whisman
(Husband: William David Whisman)
Son: John Caleb Jackson
(Wife: Whitney Bilek Jackson)
Son: Micah Paul Jackson
(Wife: Jordan Kimsey Campbell Jackson)
Interesting Fact: I am the first Jackson male heir to: (1) graduate high school, and (2) leave Georgia and reside elsewhere, since the Jacksons first arrived there in the early 1820s.
Name: Cleo Eugene “Gene” Jackson (My Father)
Born: 03/10/1938, Fayette County, Georgia
Death: 01/23/2000, Fayette County, Georgia
Profession: Funeral Director
Wife: Margie Nell Burdette (My Mother)
Children: Daughter: Barbara Jean Jackson (Brand)
Son: Cleo Eugene “Jack” Jackson, III (Me)
Daughter: Erica Jill Jackson (Phillips)
Interesting Fact: My father quit school after the tenth grade, hoping to be able to stay home and make a living on the farm just as his own father had done. However, the changing demographics of Fayette County, Georgia at the time thwarted his being able to farm successfully for a living. He entered the work force and eventually became a licensed Funeral Director, a profession which he pursued for over 25 years, until his death. He lived on a 40-acre farm named “Old Hickory Farm” due to a large hickory tree at its corner that had been used as a marker in the original surveying of the land by the first settlers of Fayette County back in the 1820s. (Source: Census records, court records, land and tax records, military records, church records, his will, and family and personal records.)
Name: Cleo Jackson (My Grandfather)
Born: 09/21/1909, Fayette County, Georgia
Wife: Junie Mae Turner (My Grandmother)
Children: Daughter: Jimmie Lee Jackson (Hammond)
Son: Cleo Eugene “Gene” Jackson (My Father)
Son: Roy Larry Jackson
Interesting Fact: My grandfather was the last of my ancestors actually to make a full-time living by farming. He quit school at the end of the third grade due to his own father’s illness. Barely able to read and write, he nevertheless worked his way into a prosperous position in the community, owning two “one horse” farms and managing a third one at the time of his death. (My father once told me that a “one horse” farm was c. 40 acres, as that was the amount of land one man and one horse or mule could reasonably work in a given year.) Along the way, he gravitated from crop farming to hog and, eventually, cattle farming. It was rumored that he, like so many other broke young men during the 1920s and 1930s, made a little extra money on Saturday nights by running moonshine up to the speak-easies in Atlanta. Official records, though, indicate that he actually worked at the Atlanta Journal newspaper on Saturday nights. I remember him as he was later in life (when he was a grandfather), and I have to say this of him: he was quite possibly the most joyous person I have ever known. (Source: Census records, land and tax records, military records, church records, his will, and family and personal records.)
Name: John Bunyan Jackson (My Great-Grandfather)
Born: 09/22/1886, Haralson County, Georgia
Death: 10/26/1972, Fayette County, Georgia
Wife: Jessie Georgia Burdette (My Great-Grandmother)
Children: Daughter: Edna Matilda Jackson (either McGuirk or McGuirt)
Son: Cleo Jackson (My Grandfather)
Son: Andrew Cloud “Clyde” Jackson
Interesting Fact: He walked from Haralson County, Georgia to Fayette County, Georgia at the age of 13 to move in with his uncle, as his father could no longer afford to feed him. He declared bankruptcy himself in 1922, due to illness. He contracted a disease known as pellagra, due primarily to a diet consisting almost entirely of corn, the only cash crop grown at the time. In 1898, he, his wife, and his in-laws were all “churched” at a business meeting for having missed a worship service at the Hopeful Primitive Baptist Church (where his forefathers had gone for 75 years) without offering a reason for being absent. The four of them promptly went down the road a few miles and joined a Southern Baptist church (New Hope Baptist Church – where I would one day grow up and eventually be called to preach). The last direct ancestor I knew personally, this meek and unassuming man had a father (Marion) who fought in the Civil War, a brother (Walt) who was gassed in the trenches of World War One, and a son (Clyde) who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two. (Source: Census records, land and tax records, military records, church records, his will, and family and personal records.)
Name: Marion Jackson (My Great-Great-Grandfather)
Born: 01/22/1842,Fayette County, Georgia
Death: 02/14/1921, Haralson County, Georgia
Wife: Emma (Emily) Eason (My Great-Great-Grandmother)
Children: Son: Jordan Jackson
Daughter: Noley Leach Jackson
Daughter: Mary Leetha Jackson
Daughter: Ida Jackson
Son: John Bunyan Jackson (My Great-Grandfather)
Son: Charlie Andrew Jackson
Son: James Walter Jackson
Son: Robert Lee Jackson
Interesting Fact: Nicknamed “Peg Leg”, he was a Civil War veteran who lost his leg in the Peninsula Campaign in the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek outside Mechanicsville, Virginia (part of the “Seven Days Battles”) in 1862. After the battle, he hid from Union soldiers for three days under a school house with a .50 caliber bullet wound to his shin. Gangrene set in and his leg had to be amputated. Ironically, the loss of his leg actually saved his life. One year later, his entire regiment (The 44th Georgia Infantry) was annihilated at a then obscure little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg. He lived as a pauper on his Confederate pension after the war because, with only one leg, he could not farm for a living. (He did try to farm, but repeatedly lost mortgaged farms in “sheriff’s sales” in order to settle his debts.) He eventually settled in Haralson County, Georgia. (Source: Census records, land and tax records, military records, church records, and his will.)
Name: Jordan Jackson (My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather)
Born: 1789, Sampson County, North Carolina
Death: 1862, Fayette County, Georgia
Wife: Leetha Smith (My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother)
Children: Son: James S. Jackson
Daughter: Penny Jackson
Son: Needham Jackson
Daughter: Elizabeth Jackson
Daughter: Mary Jackson
Daughter: Phoebe Jackson
Son: Bennett Jackson
Daughter: Esther Jackson
Son: Marion Jackson (My Great-Great-Grandfather)
Daughter: Caroline Jackson
Son: Jerusha Jackson
Interesting Fact: He migrated from Johnston County, North Carolina (where he had first moved with his parents as a youngster) to the newly formed Fayette County, Georgia in the early 1820s. He did this to take advantage of land grants made available (specifically Land Lot 252 of Cession 116) by cession to the United States from the Creek Indian Nation in the treaty of 1821. Shortly thereafter, he appears in the records of Hopeful Primitive Baptist Church (located in northern Fayette County) as a Deacon for the year 1825. Records indicate he was very active in his church. At the time of this death, in 1862, he was a relatively prosperous landowner and farmer, having been blessed with five sons and six son-in-laws as built in farmhands; albeit shortly thereafter, the world he had known was turned upside down as the Confederacy suffered the twin humiliations of defeat and reconstruction. (Source: Census records, land and tax records, military records, church records, and his will.)
Name: Lewis Jackson (My Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather)
Born: ????, Sampson County, North Carolina
Death: 1824, Johnston County, North Carolina
Wife: Martha ???? (My Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother)
Children: Son: James Jackson
Son: Jordan Jackson (My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather)
Interesting Fact: He migrated with his wife and sons from Sampson County, North Carolina to Johnston County, North Carolina where he established himself as a farmer. Later on (in 1811), his oldest son, James, married a Cherokee Indian woman named Nancy Barefoot and continued farming alongside him. His youngest son, Jordan, however, soon left for the promise of greener pastures over the mountains in Georgia. (Source: Census records, land and tax records, and his will.)
Name: Richard Jackson (My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather)
Born: ????, Virginia
Death: 1822, Sampson County, North Carolina
Wife: Mary ???? (My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother)
Children: Daughter: Nanny Jackson
Son: John Jackson
Son: Lewis Jackson (My Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather)
Son: Frederick Jackson
Interesting Fact: He is believed to have been a veteran of the Revolutionary War, who then migrated to Sampson County, North Carolina from Virginia after the war. Records indicate that this was sometime after 1787 but before 1790. [A total of 53 war veterans named Richard Jackson were known to have moved from Virginia to North Carolina in the first decade or two after the war.] (Source: Census records, land and tax records, military records, and his will.)