The Rev. Travis Russell will join the staff of Vinton Baptist Church on June 17 as the Senior Pastor. He and wife Whitney, along with their sons Carter and Parker, are in the process of moving to Vinton and settling in.
Russell previously served as the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Graham, N.C., beginning in 2013. In addition to his regular pastoral duties there, he was involved in the Starfish mission work in which the church served a meal to the community each Saturday. He served as Minister of Youth at First Baptist Church in Whiteville, N.C. for three years, re-establishing the program from the ground up and leading mission trips to Puerto Rico and Belize.
He completed his Clinical Pastoral Residency at the Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, N.C. in 2008-2009, providing pastoral care to hospital patients, their families, and staff as chaplain.
Russell was the Minister of Church programs at Calvary Baptist Church in Reidsville, N.C., coordinating community outreach in 2007 and 2008. He served as a ministerial intern at First Baptist Church in Eden, N.C., from May 2003 to March 2007 where he led an international mission trip to Ukraine.
Russell graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2006 with a concentration in Communication Studies.
He went on to receive his Master of Divinity degree from Campbell University Divinity School in December 2009 with languages and a concentration in pastoral care.
He became a Licensed Minister in 2007 and was ordained in 2009.
Russell says his purpose and commitment in ministry is to “Love God; love people; do the work.” He believes that ministry also involves the responsibility “to provide opportunities to help others discover their God-given gifts and passions, and together share Christ’s love, grace, acceptance, and hope to all creation.” In order to fulfill this mission, he says that individuals must practice the words of St. Augustine and “pray as though everything depended on God; work as though everything depended on you.”
Russell said that he has been excited from his first introduction to Vinton Baptist about the commitment of the church to local and international missions and to children and youth.
“Whitney and I have been inspired by the work God is doing through VBC and feel called to come and join with you in this good work,” said Russell.
Former Vinton Baptist Church Senior Pastor Bill Booth resigned in October 2016. A pastor search committee was officially commissioned in March 2017. According to Associate Senior Pastor for Worship, the Rev. Chris Monroe, who has been serving as Acting Senior Pastor at VBC, it took the committee about a year to find their candidate and a few months to work out his being presented to the church and officially called.
During those 18 or so months since Booth left, Monroe has supervised staff, made the daily decisions, and led committees.
Dr. Tony Brooks from Lynchburg has served as interim pastor since August 2017, preaching on Sundays and leading prayer meetings and Bible Studies on Wednesday evenings.