From Gumbud to the World

Scott McCullar began preaching the local circuit when he was 16 years old. Now the pastor at First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill has a much broader mission outlined in a simple phrase, “Go.” 

Words by Terrell Manasco | Images by Blakeney Clouse

Most seminary students are wrestling with deeper matters of the Christian faith, not getting saved. But such was the case with Scott McCullar, who sealed his eternal destination while a seminary student in North Carolina. 

“I really didn’t know what it meant to be a Christian,” he confesses. 

Scott was three years old when his parents divorced. Early on, a sense of normalcy was replaced by perpetual bleakness. When the dust settled from that family severance, Scott and his mom were living in a place called Fayette, Alabama. 

They didn’t have much money. They rarely went to church. Scott’s mom struggled with mental illness most of her life. His grandmother became his surrogate mother, taking him to church at Macedonia Baptist in Fayette. The locals called the church “Gumbud.”

“I had a wonderful grandmother who was a rock to me,” Scott says. “She made me go to church.”

At 16, Scott started attending Southside Baptist Church. Around the time, he began preaching in local churches. “People were overwhelmingly kind to let this kid who didn’t come from a church background come and preach,” he says. 

Though Scott began touring for Christ, he makes a startling confession: “I didn’t really become a believer until I was in seminary,” he says. 


After two years at Brewer State Community College (now Bevill State), Scott transferred to the University of Mobile. He graduated at the top of his class in 1997, winning the School of Religion award for the highest G.P.A. “Now granted, I’m not a believer at this point…” he adds. 

In October 1998, Scott married his fiancée, Suzanne. The newlyweds had hardly exchanged rings when Scott entered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He calls it a “transformational” experience. “I asked one guy from South Asia, ‘Why don’t you just bring your family here?’” Scott recalls. “He said, ‘Why would I do that? God called me to go back and plant churches and give my life to Him.’”

Already struggling with doubts, Scott was stunned to meet people so committed to giving their lives for Christ. Those conversations, he says, transformed his life. “That crushed me,” Scott says. “On October 15th, 1998, in seminary chapel, I accepted the Lord Jesus truly as my Savior. All the doubts went away. I know there’s a calling on my life and no matter what happens, I’m going to follow that calling.”

In 2007, Scott began preaching at Carbon Hill First Baptist Church. His passion has been implementing the command in Acts 1:8 to evangelize the world: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The church has made such efforts through community outreach and mission trips, and plans to send a group to South Asia next year. 

“My journey has been, ‘How do I put people on mission?’” Scott says. “How do I minister in Carbon Hill? How do we go overseas to where there are no churches? Jesus said ‘Go.’ He’s calling for radical discipleship. You can’t just serve Carbon Hill and not the nations. That’s the challenge for me.”

The journey of Scott McCullar has been one of joy, sadness, heartbreak, self-doubt, and self-discovery. His life might have turned out very different had it not been for a Fayette County woman who took her young grandson to church, the place the locals referred to as “Gumbud.” 78

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