Engineer of Growth: Stewart
Thrives in More Than One Role

Apr 1, 2007 12:00 PM
By Bob Andelman

George Stewart always thought he’d spend his life as an engineer, or managing engineers, or teaching engineering.

But building a Baptist church almost from scratch? And designing its growth from 20 members to 1,600 over nearly 40 years?

That, he says, is just proof that God has a plan for us, whether we recognize it at first or not.

Stewart — a recent addition to the RCMA Board of Directors — has been pastor of Zion Chapel Baptist Church in Cleveland since June 1969. He was ordained at a sister church in January of that year and sent forth to minister his own flock just six months later.

Those were dicey times, financially and spiritually, for the 3-year-old institution. With only 20 members, Stewart kept his day job at Republic Steel.

“I really wanted to be an industrial education teacher,” he recalls. “I matriculated at Savannah State College in Georgia. I was inducted into the service in 1953. I studied diesel-engine repair and became a mechanic and mastered four engines. I wanted to carry that back to the classroom with me.”