Public Affairs Training at Brewton Parker College

Mr. Mike Griffin, Public Affairs Representative, from the Georgia Baptist Mission Board with BPC President Dr. Steven Echols (Photo by Evan Riekhof).

MOUNT VERNON — Brewton-Parker College (BPC) hosted the Public Affairs Training on Monday, October 25th. This free event by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) was for pastors, ministry leaders, and students. Those in attendance had the opportunity to learn the importance of how ministry leaders and churches can be engaged in the policy-making process and why local, state, and national leaders need your ministry and support. 

The training sessions have been held each year since 2016, and have proven to be among the most popular offered by the GBMB. Mr. Mike Griffin, who is over the public affairs ministry of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, has 12 training sessions scheduled across the state. The ministry provides guidance from a Christian perspective on public policy and social issues. The training sessions will occur from August through November to give church leaders insights into engaging in the raging debates surrounding ethical, moral, and cultural issues.

The GBMB role at the Capitol has four main roles: observation, education, motivation, and activation. Mr. Griffin has been a pastor for thirty-five years and is a Lobbyist at the Georgia State Capitol. “This training helps participants understand why it’s important for ministry leaders and churches to be engaged in the policy-making process,” Griffin shared. “Engagement and service are the keywords to take away from this training: Be engaged in policy and serve governmental leaders.” The purpose of the training is also to reach educational establishments such as BPC. 

Before the scheduled speakers, President of BPC Steven Echols stated, “We want to see our student lives have transformational experiences that equip the whole student for lifelong learning and service in Christ. We want to see this generation of students rise up and be someone to make a difference.” 

Speakers in attendance included: Mike Griffin, Public Affairs Representative of Georgia Baptist Mission Board, on the topic of Is There Not a Cause: Current Issues & Why Change Is Possible; Brad Hughes, Office of Governor Brian Kemp, Public Affairs Committee Chairman, on the topic of A Blueprint For Meaningful Engagement; Harrison Smith, Alliance Defending Freedom on the topic of How To Protect Your Church From The Rising Attacks on Religious Liberty; and former State Representative Kevin Cooke and former State Senator Josh McKoon who both spoke on the topic of Understanding the Legislative Process and A Legislator’s Perspective.

Griffin’s main focus is on the children and the younger generation. In sum, and the big rhetorical question Griffin wanted the audience to take away was, “If we (the church) don’t care about the impact the culture is having upon our children, then what kind of ‘gospel’ are we preaching?”  

Dr. Billy Puckett who is both professor in the Christian Studies Division and the Association Missionary for the Daniell Baptist Association helped bring the Public Affairs Training to BPC. Part of his job includes helping BPC and the GBMB partner together to provide a forum for students and local church leadership to discuss effective political and cultural engagement. “The United States of America is a democracy governed by the people. Christians have a responsibility as citizens of this country to engage the political process and our culture. We have a calling from God to dispel darkness and prevent decay as light and salt in this world. In these politically polarized times those who are guided by the Spirit of Christ can lead our country into a blessed future,” Dr. Puckett remarked. 

For more information on the Public Affairs Training and the Georgia Baptist Mission Board please visit:

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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