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In Memory Of Reverend Jimmy Waters

Sen. Saxby Chambliss

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Mr. President, for most of his 83 years, the Reverend Jimmy Waters made a significant impact on the lives of many Georgians. The former pastor of Macon's Mabel White Memorial Baptist Church and Tattnall Square Baptist Church has spent, as he said, a great deal of time battling fires. For more than 55 years, he was chaplain of the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department assisting the men who fought physical fires. For nearly 60 years, he was also an ordained minister, fighting, as he said, the hell fire that threatens men's souls.

In addition to presiding over the growth of Mabel White from 800 members to over 3,900, he served as chaplain to the Macon Police Department, the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, the Georgia State Patrol, and the Georgia bureau of Investigation. He was also named lifetime chaplain of the Georgia Peace Officers Association, which awarded the first Jimmy Waters Scholarship in his honor to a University of Georgia criminal justice student.

Reverend Waters was a graduate of Mercer University, where he entered the ministry while he was still a freshman and earned both his bachelor's and doctorate degrees. As a loving father and husband, he raised three daughters with his wife, the former Annette Burton of Crawfordville. His family often sang with him as he conducted religious services in churches located as far away as Israel and Italy.

Reverend Waters was not the type of Christian who kept his lamp under a bushel. He and his siblings sang gospel music on Atlanta's WSB radio station in the 1930s. In addition to his duties as pastor, he initiated televised services from Mabel White, and later began broadcasts of ``The Victory Hour.'' After he retired from Mabel White in 1977, he devoted his efforts to Jimmy Waters Ministries, which spread the Gospel through radio, television, and evangelism. As religious director for WMAZ radio and television in Macon, he recorded over 25,000 broadcasts at home and abroad until he stopped in 2003. He also served as co-host for many fundraising telethons for Macon's WMAZ-TV in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Children's Miracle Network and Cerebral Palsy.

Dr. Waters was often recognized for his work, serving as President of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1974-1976 and as Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Radio and Television Commission from 1977-1978. In all of the many positions he accepted, he brought energy and integrity to the job.

That inner fire that he brought to his work is the reason why so many of us will miss Reverend Jimmy Waters. He was a great American and my good friend.