Middle Ground pastor Charlie Cooper proves that ‘it’s hard to keep a good man down’


SYLVANIA, Ga. — Despite his planned retirement, pastor Charlie Cooper knew in his heart that he wanted to still have opportunities to preach.

The night before his last Sunday preaching at First Baptist Sylvania in February 2021, Cooper prayed that the Lord would still be able to use him. “I pray that I might be able to continue to preach,” he asked, specifically requesting a call to serve as an interim pastor as a sign from God.

The Lord quickly answered Cooper’s prayer, as the very day after his final sermon he received a call from Middle Ground Baptist Church, located 12 miles south of Sylvania, about being their interim pastor. He accepted their invitation and after three months the church decided they wanted him to be their full-time pastor. Though he was 75 years old at the time, Cooper started all over again at a new church, and he is loving it.

Cooper has been preaching for 64 years and continues to boldly declare “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” He started out preaching on street corners and wherever he could get an audience as a teenager. He has pastored churches in three states including Burkhalter Baptist Church in Savannah for 25 years, and First Baptist Church in Sylvania for 12 years.

Middle Ground Baptist Church was founded in 1827 and the church cemetery has the graves of soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary Army as well as in the Civil War.

The church is beautifully situated on 125 acres. Some of that land is leased to farmers who grow hay, and the church receives some financial benefits from the agricultural crop to support its ministry.

The relationship between the pastor and people of Middle Ground has blossomed quickly into one of mutual love. “The members of Middle Ground Baptist Church are some of the most loving, supportive, and encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ that I have had the joy of pastoring,” Cooper states.

And the love of the congregation is reciprocated by Cooper and his wife. “It was not long after my wife Linda and I came to the church that we fell in love with the people,” he says.

To properly accommodate Cooper and his wife, Linda, the church renovated its pastorium, spending over $100,000 to renovate the inside of the house, which is beautifully situated about 100 yards from the church buildings.

The impact that Cooper and his wife have made on the church is evident in the way the members talk about their pastor. Redo Brinson, who has volunteered for years as the church’s minister of music, describes Cooper as, “a man of God who cares deeply for his flock. He is a loving pastor who preaches the Gospel with conviction.”

Brinson explains that Cooper’s “love for people compels him to have a concern for everyone whether saved or lost. He is truly an inspiration to all of us at Middle Ground and to the whole county.”

In addition to honoring and blessing Charlie in October for Pastor Appreciation Month, the church has established March as the month to show their appreciation for their pastor’s wife. On each occasion the church has showered the Coopers with gifts and multiple expressions of love.

In October of last year, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer which has metastasized to lymph nodes. The church has supported the Coopers throughout dealing with this health issue by allowing Charlie to have as much time as needed to care for his wife and take her to a Savannah hospital for medical care which includes chemotherapy treatments.

Greg Lee, the church treasurer and a deacon, praises Cooper’s dedication to the Word of God, and the years of pastoral experience that Cooper brings to Middle Ground. “Our pastor does not waver from well-grounded biblical teaching,” Lee says. “He shows his experience in all situations that may arise in the church. He has a friendly, loving, and outgoing spirit toward his family, friends, and church members and I have never seen him with a condescending attitude toward anyone.”

Cooper says that his desire and hope are to “love, feed, and lead the congregations that I pastor into godliness and holiness.” But, he explains, “You cannot lead unless the people follow.”

And follow they have, Cooper says. “The people of Middle Ground Baptist Church have followed my leadership perhaps better than any church I have had the joy of pastoring. I pray that the Lord will allow me to stay with the church for many years to come.”

It is evident that the Coopers have found a home at Middle Ground. Beth Smith, who assists with the church’s music ministry, said the church quickly grew to love Charlie from the moment he became its interim pastor and can’t imagine him preaching anywhere else. “If MGBC had been his first church,” she says, “I believe he would have remained with us his entire ministry.”

She attributes the church’s health and recent growth to Cooper’s love of God and his attitude of servanthood, describing him as, “the ever-faithful servant” despite the recent ordeals the Coopers have faced. “Even with his own physical trials and Linda’s cancer, he has shown a remarkable faith,” she says before concluding, “Pastor Charlie has shown us that you can’t keep a good man down.”