Spark Conference 2020 Comes to BPC

By Sydney Fink
Student Writer

Mount Vernon – On Friday, September 18, Brewton-Parker College (BPC), along with the Daniell Baptist Association, hosted the 2020 SPARK Conference. The SPARK conference is an annual one-day total church equipping conference for church leaders that desire to enrich their ministries and are passionate about training disciples. 

This year, local pastors and church leaders gathered at BPC to attend virtual sessions covering topics such as Discipleship, Men’s and Women’s Ministries, Leadership, Middle School Youth, to name a few. SPARK featured speakers such as Robby Gallaty, Paul Chitwood, and Tyrone Barnette to educate ministry leaders on how to encourage spiritual growth and discipleship within their churches. 

Robert Gallatly, in his session titled Discipleship, discussed the need and method of how to train disciples in the church. He stated, “Ministry is the pathway for maturity for believers.” 

Gallatly went on to explain that for maturity to take place, people need to gain experience in the ministry field. He expressed that by placing believers in the work of ministry, they have the opportunity to grow in maturity.

During the conference, Karl Hay, pastor of First Baptist of Mount Vernon, commented on the Discipleship session saying, “[This event] is a great way to equip pastors and lay leaders.” 

In addition to the SPARK speakers, Dr. Steve Echols, President of Brewton-Parker College, spoke to attendees about what he believed change and leadership should look like in the church. 

Echols stated, “The purpose for all leadership is transformation.” He explained that church leaders should be “transformational servant leaders.” As they do the work of ministry, they should be “seeing spiritual progress individually in the lives of those they touch and then as a whole in the body of Christ.” Echols expressed that it is important for leaders to be first servants as they encourage spiritual transformation in the lives of other believers. 


Dr. Billy Puckett, Director of Missions of the Daniel Baptist Association and also Assistant Professor of Theology at BPC, commented on Dr. Echols words: “Dr. Echols did an exceptional job at encouraging members of the church to lead God’s people to God’s agenda.”  

The SPARK Conference at BPC was an enriching and enlightening event for leaders in local churches. Attendees learned many ways to improve and strengthen the different ministries inside their churches. The wide variety of speakers and sessions educated them how to teach and preach people from all stages of life. SPARK worked to equip church leaders with the skills they need to effectively minister and train up disciples in the church. 

In response to the event, Dr. Billy Puckett made the following statement regarding the response of the church leaders to the event:

“I see the eagerness and hunger in the participants to really implement the principles that have been learned for the advancement of the church. You can see that we are hungry for revival and change, a spiritual renewal. The spark conference is kindling the fire of hunger. Hopefully, it will spread through the church and renewal will take place.”

BPC is looking forward to seeing how the SPARK Conference is going to impact the local churches and their mission to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:16-20).


Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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