On August 29, the members of Iron City Church voted to name Isaac Adams as their lead pastor. Adams comes to Birmingham from Washington D.C. after serving at Capitol Hill Baptist since 2013.
John Cody Petitfils, a member of Iron City, reacted to the news by saying “I’m excited for Isaac to lead us in his love for Jesus and the gospel. I’m most excited about experiencing the gospel unity The Lord calls and commands of us and the Church.”
History of Iron City Church
Iron City is a church in the heart of Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood that seeks to be a church for unity, diversity, the city, and the glory of God. The church was planted in 2014 by Valleydale Church by then Valleydale Pastor, Jason Dees, and Iron City Campus Pastor, Jason Cook.
In a city known for its racial division of the past and present, Iron City Church has spent the past few years seeking to be a faithful, multi-ethnic congregation. Since the departure of then-campus pastor, Jason Cook, Iron City has been searching for a lead pastor to guide the church forward.
For the past few years, former Valleydale College Pastor Kam Pugh has handled much of the preaching and vision casting responsibilities at the church but declined to hold the title of lead pastor. Now, Isaac Adams will begin leading the church as they seek to pursue that vision.
For members of the church, unity in Christ is of utmost importance as they seek to be a multi-ethnic congregation in a historically divided city.
Called and Trained for Ministry
During his near-decade at the church, Isaac served first as an intern at CHBC before moving into a pastoral assistant and later an assistant pastor role at the church.
For Adams, the call to ministry came over time. He described his calling like branches covered in gasoline waiting for the Lord to ignite the flame. Though he had felt the desire to preach for as long as he can remember, Adams said, “When a church called me, that was when it was clear that this was the Lord’s will.”
At the beginning of his nearly ten years at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Adams participated in the pastoral internship program under senior pastor, Mark Dever. In addition to his role as the senior pastor at CHBC, Dever is the founder of 9Marks, a parachurch ministry committed to equipping pastors to lead healthy churches.
While many who have participated in the church’s internship program have moved across the country to study under the well-known leader, Mark Dever, Isaac Adams had a different story. Adams grew up in D.C. and attended the same Christian school as Dever’s children. He shared memories of skateboarding in the church parking lot and playing video games with Dever’s son as a twelve-year-old.
“Before 9Marks or T4G, I was just hanging out at Mark’s house,” Adams said. In college, while studying theology, he found a video of Mark teaching and decided to reach out to him for seminary advice. After several conversations, Dever encouraged Adams to come intern at the church.
Since 1998, Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s internship program has consistently produced high-quality pastors, professors, and missionaries. From Trip Lee in Dallas to Ken Mbugua in Kenya, the church has invested in leaders who now serve in churches across the globe. Adams later went on to serve in a variety of roles including pastoral assistant and assistant pastor at the church.
“It became clear that my training at CHBC had accomplished what we hoped it would accomplish. I had been there the better part of a decade and it was time to go,” Adams said.
Committed to Racial Reconciliation
In addition to pastoral ministry, Adams is the founder of United? We Pray a ministry committed to addressing racial issues helpfully, biblically, clearly, and hopefully. In October of 2017, Adams launched the United? We Pray Podcast which eventually began to produce articles during the spring of 2019 and will publish its first book in early 2022.
Through this ministry, Adams has proven himself to be a pastor and author who is serious about promoting diversity within the local church and handling racial tensions with grace and truth.
As he transitions from Washington D.C. to Birmingham, U?WP will come with him. He joked that the ministry is kind of like “one of his kids, it goes where he goes and doesn’t live somewhere else.”
Drawn to Birmingham
Adams said, “Birmingham was never the plan for me, I had many plans and this was not one of them, but in the Lord’s providence it actually became clear that there is no better home for United? We Pray than Birmingham, Alabama, given this city’s history with church and racism, which are clearly still reverberating throughout this city.”
Even his role at Iron City was a conversation that took place over the course of several years. Pastor Kam Pugh began talking to Adams about the lead pastor role in 2019, but Adams wasn’t ready to leave Capitol Hill Baptist yet and had a great desire to sit under the teaching at the church and serve as an Assistant Pastor. It wasn’t until March 25th of this year that Adams reached out to Pugh about serving at Iron City.
As he considered where God was leading him and his family, he preached in view of a call on August 15, 2021. Five years earlier on August 15, 2016, one of the elders at Iron City had emailed the other elders recommending they reach out to Adams about the role.
For Adams, the Lord’s providence gave him clarity as he moved his family and ministry across the nation. Adams will spend the next few months listening to and building relationships with the congregation before stepping into the pulpit in 2022.