Published on April 19, 2024 by Neal Embry  
Jesse Carr SC04162024424

It may seem like now is the perfect time to panic for Christians, who face a post-Christian West that is increasingly hostile to their faith, Jesse Carr said.

But we ought only to panic if we forget the gospel and what God has done and will do for His people, Carr told an audience during the April 16 chapel service at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.

Carr is this term’s recipient of the James Earl Massey Student Preaching Award, given each semester to a graduating Beeson student who exhibits excellence in the field of preaching. The winning student preaches during the last chapel service of the semester, and is honored along other award recipients at the end of the service.

Preaching from 2 Timothy 1:3-14, Carr encouraged his fellow students and members of the community to remember the promises of God and remain faithful to Him, wherever they find themselves.

Carr reminded his fellow students that they already possess both genuine faith in Christ and the gifts that He has given them, and that they need only look back to what they know is true as they face what lies ahead.

“Before we are servants, before we are pastors, before we are preachers, we are believers. … And we believe today that the long promises of God unrolled throughout the centuries, and that our God was faithful to His Word until it culminated at Calvary and three days later in the resurrection,” Carr said.

Carr encouraged his audience not to use Christian ministry as a place to “sew fig leaves” in order to cover up fear of people, which can lead ministers to water down God’s truth. The gospel, he said, frees us even as we preach it to others, as it reminds us of where our value truly lies.

“Our God has already spoken the final word about your value when He stretched out His arms for you at Cavalry,” Carr said.

Challenging his fellow students to “preach the word,” Carr tied their ministry to the work of God that began in the opening pages of His Word.

“Preach the Word. Take your place in the long line of those that have come before you and have proclaimed the Word of your God,” Carr said. “And stand with the Lord Jesus, knowing that faithful ministry will never, never take you where it took Him. And you can preach knowing that our God’s last word about your past was spoken when He offered His Son to die in your place, and the last word about your future was spoken when He brought Him back from the dead three days later.”

Looking toward the future of God’s people, Carr reminded those listening the gospel guarantees we will arrive safely at home.

“And if you are going to be safe at home, then you need to not stand in a pulpit with fear; you need to not approach your future with trepidation, but you can trust in God knowing that the last call about your life in Christ is safe.”

Carr currently serves as senior pastor at Sharon Heights Baptist Church in Brookside, where he began serving in 2018. He’s been married to his wife, Amy, since 2007, and they have two children: Priscilla, 6, and Asa, 4.

“Amy is without a doubt my biggest fan, my best cheerleader, that has always believed in me (and) supported me,” Carr said.

 Carr Family

Originally from North Carolina, Carr, the son of a preacher, felt called to preach at the age of 13 and began pastoring his first church at 22. He began seminary later in life than many of his fellow students, which has allowed him to both learn from them and also serve as a mentor to aspiring pastors.

During his time in seminary, Carr has seen the Lord’s faithfulness, as God has come through when he’s felt stretched too thin.

“He’s the one carrying the weight,” Carr said.

One lesson Carr has learned in his time at Beeson is a lesson he said we all need to hear over and over.

“He will not fail. He will not let His people down. He will always come through,” Carr said.

Listen to Carr's sermon on Beeson's YouTube channel, where you can also find his conversation with Dean Douglas Sweeney on a recent episode of the Beeson Divinity School podcast.

Other Awards

In addition to the Massey Award, Beeson Divinity School awarded several other honors during the April 16 chapel service. Other students receiving honors were:

History and Doctrine Award: Manny Boston

Pastoral Ministry Award: Hayden Betsill

William M. Todd Award for Biblical Languages: Miranda Cox

Most Distinguished Student Award: Joshua Hedrick

Manny Boston

Hayden Betsill

Miranda Cox

Hedricks family

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.