Meet Jeff Williams! Pastor Williams is the senior pastor at Southside Church. The church is located in Athens and is home to many people in the Jackson County area. Southside has been open and serving for 13 years, and was started by Pastor Jeff himself. He has been a vital role in the community, including using the church to feed hungry kids in the Jackson County and surrounding areas.
The slogan at Southside Church is “Welcome Home.” Everyone who goes to Southside can admit that it feels like being a part of one big family. Pastor Jeff shows tremendous love and dedication to his job and to the community. Southside continues to operate and holds three services every Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:15 a.m.
We thank Pastor Jeff for taking the time to sit down and interview with Karlee Caldwell, a student and FBLA member from Jefferson High School.
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: “When I was in college, I met my wife and we started going to church. She invited me to go to church with her, and I didn’t go to church. So, I thought she was so pretty, that I said, ‘I will go wherever you go!’ So, I went to church with her, and that one day, that church service just really impacted my life. I thought, as I watched everything, I saw how people responded and it was so genuine, it was just real. I said that day, ‘If this is real, then I want this in my life.’ So, I just stuck with it. I call it pretty girl evangelism, because my wife, we were dating at the time, was pretty, so I said, ‘I’m in!’ She went to church, so a lot of that was because of her. In that, God worked in my life, so I went to church because she was there, but God used that to get my attention. So, I just got more involved, I mean, really, because she was involved. God used that involvement to really impact my life. So, it was a process of about four years, but in that, my faith grew and I served more, and just did more, and it opened more doors for me. Until one day in particular, I went on a mission trip, and I call that pretty girl missions, because my wife went on a mission trip! So, I came back from that and for the first time in my life, I thought this is something that I could do for the rest of my life.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Jackson County, and what do you love there?
A: “I love going to Huck’s in Commerce. It’s a hamburger joint! The Huck’s burger and french fries, that’s my favorite!”
Q: What modern convenience would you want if you were stuck on a deserted island?
A: “Running water.”
Q: Who was your favorite teacher growing up?
A: “My favorite teacher growing up was a lady named Kim Savage, my fifth grade teacher at Commerce Elementary School.”
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Jackson County?
A: “I have lived in Jackson County 22 years. I’ve worked in Jackson County 13 years.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in Jackson County and why?
A: “Steve Adams. He’s a businessman in Jackson County. I’ve known him for about 13 years and he’s older than me, he’s wiser than me, and I just love listening to him.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “I would go to Israel, because it’s the starting point of my faith.”
Q: What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: “’Star Wars.’”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Do right, work hard, love others.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “My wife and I do all this stuff together, and we want to visit the Mediterranean Sea and all the places around that. So, like a cruise or a trip there to go around through the Mediterranean Sea.”
Q: What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: “My favorite music would be country music. My three bands would be Tim McGraw, George Strait, and Michael Jackson.
Q: What local business makes you the most nostalgic about Jackson County and why?
A: “It would probably be Huck’s! My parents used to go on dates to Huck’s and it’s just a good ole fashioned hamburger and it’s just a small town restaurant!”
Q: Choosing anyone (past or present and a non-relative), with whom would you love to have lunch? And where locally would you have this lunch?
A: “I would love to have lunch with President Ronald Reagan, and I would take him to the Talmo Grill.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Jackson County?
A: “I love the people, and that’s why I’m here.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “I see myself here. I don’t see myself anywhere else. I’ve gone to school and been raised in Jackson County, even though I only lived in Jackson County for a certain number of years, I went to school in Jackson County all my life. So, I lived right outside the county, but I see myself here, doing what I’m doing. I love it here, I don’t want to stop.”
Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I am a closet introvert, so I’m probably more insecure than I let on, but I don’t mind crowds, and if you put on a stage in front of people, I’m good. But, if I’m put in a room where I’ve got to mingle and stuff like that, I don’t do well in rooms like that, that’s not a good place for me. If I find myself in a spot where I don’t know a lot of people, I really retreat into a shell.”
Q: What three words mean “Home” to you?
A: “Family, Faith, and Southside.”