Approaching a bridge, a young Scott Carter drove on I-95 with his grandmother in the passenger seat. He earned the privilege of driving on their long road trip thanks to his dedication to memorizing Bible verses to please his granny. At the time, the verses were just words that held no meaning to him, but as the car sailed over the bridge and into the roaring river below, all of that changed.
Pastor Carter was born in Gainesville, Ga., as the youngest of six. His interests lied in the everyday activities of a young boy and teenager.
“I was probably a typical high school kid for the early part of high school, just going through,” said Carter. “My conversion [to Christianity] happened during my high school years, where I went on a trip with my grandmother.”
Carter described his grandmother as “the only solid Christian influence in my life,” he said. After his parents divorced, his mother moved overseas when Carter was 13-years-old, giving him little chance to see her and have a strong relationship. During those early teenage years, Carter and his buddies dove into heavy drinking and wild antics, going on drunken camping trips on an island on Lake Lanier.
“We got pretty blitzed one night, and I got real sick. . . I brought our boat back to the boat house, and I told my dad what had happened, kind of got in trouble,” said Carter. “[I] turned 15 about a month after that, and I was grounded for life, one of those things.
“My grandmother shared the gospel with me more and had me memorize Psalm 23,” continued Carter. “We were going to go visit my brother, and I was going to get to drive. While driving, I ran off a bridge, and my grandmother was killed in that car accident.”
River water enveloped the car, and the vehicle began to sink. Carter emerged from the car and made it to shore, but his grandmother was unable to escape.
“. . .My grandmother didn’t come out,” said Carter, “so the Scripture she had me memorize was really resonating, because I had no interest in Scripture, no interest in God. I did it because I was going to get to drive. That was the day that I was converted. My grandmother died in that car wreck, and her life and influence was a huge loss. We all loved going to grandmother’s house. God used that Scripture, Psalm 23, to impact me and make me think about the opening verse: ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ And, all I could think of, ‘No, He’s not. He was her shepherd.’
“I knew I had been living a rebellious life, typical teenager who could care less about anything other than having fun,” continued Carter. “That was a sharp turning point in my life. As a result, . . . I asked Him to save me, because I knew that once I swam up from the bridge where the car had run off the road, I had a very real, powerful religious experience where I asked the Lord to save me. That was a 180 in my life, so the remainder of my high school years were very different from the first two.”
Carter’s transformation was rocky at first as he tried to reestablish himself within his new frame of mind.
“There was an initial loneliness where I didn’t know other Christian kids,” said Carter. “What do you do? What does it mean to be a Christian?”
Carter explained that God brought another friend into his life. The two boys had nothing in common with extremely different interests, but their faith in God helped them support each other.
After high school, Carter went to the local community college then attended Covenant College, a Christian institution, in Tennessee. Afterwards, he continued his schooling with seminary in Jackson, Miss.
“I worked as soon as I got out there. I got involved in a church with doing youth ministry and did that part-time for a year. Then, they asked me to go full-time, so the last part of my seminary experience I was working full-time as a youth minister. And, during that same time, I got married,” said Carter.
With seminary under his belt, Carter bounced around to different churches, including churches in Virginia and Rock Hill, S.C. During this time, he also took a three-year break from the church due to theological differences between his Presbyterian beliefs and that of the church where he worked, so he resigned from the position there. He worked as a salesman, returning to his roots of business, the program of his bachelor’s degree.
Seven years ago, Carter, his wife and four children moved to Western North Carolina for Carter to take the job of senior pastor at Webster Baptist Church on 1955 Webster Road.
“I happened to pick up a magazine one day and saw an ad about a church in Sylva, and I remembered that was pretty much right in between where my family and my wife’s family lived,” said Carter. “I remembered coming here as a kid because my grandmother lived in Clayton [Ga.], and she would bring us to the waterfalls in Cashiers, go to Cherokee. So, we ended up deciding to be between our two parents, and God kind of led and opened up that door to come here.”
As senior pastor, Carter preaches on Sunday, encourages church members to get involved with ministry, teaches his congregation, identifies members of the church as leaders then pushes them forward to fulfill that role, boosts church life and cares for the church family.
Carter explained the standpoint that Webster Baptist takes on the Bible.
“We do believe in the authority of God’s Word and the sufficiency of Scripture. . .” said Carter. “Bible first and Baptist second, but we’re comfortably where we think we belong theologically.”
Looking ahead to the coming years, Carter hopes that their funding for mission trips will grow as well as encouraging “disciplining,” he said.
Carter has no plans to leave Webster Baptist anytime soon. Two of his children are in high school, one is in college and his oldest recently graduated from Western Carolina University. Carter enjoys hiking, biking the new trail at WCU, playing softball for the church team and golf.
For more information on Webster Baptist Church, call 828-586-4459.