Across the road from where his football career was forged, Doug Baldwin shared his faith Easter Sunday.
Baldwin, the star receiver for the Seattle Seahawks and Gulf Breeze High graduate, spoke to the Momentum Church congregation in two morning services at Gulf Breeze Elementary School. The nondenominational church, founded in 2011 by pastor Tim Payne and his wife, Stephanie, meets at the location each Sunday.
Baldwin joined Payne on the pulpit to discus his own devotion and how it has helped shaped values in his life. The 10 a,m. service filled the school auditorium where services where held.
“He has a heart for Jesus, a heart for people and a heart for football,” said Matt Arnold, the worship and creative pastor at Momentum Church.
Arnold and Payne met with Baldwin last week. Former Gulf Breeze High football coach Chris Nemith, the Dolphins coach for 14 years, helped connect Baldwin to the church. Nemith coached Baldwin at Gulf Breeze.
“Doug just so happened to be in town this weekend, because he doesn’t come to town very often and was able to be gracious enough to give us a few hours of his time,” Payne said.
At the request of Baldwin and the church, his time was kept to the Easter service, so there were no media interviews permitted.
Arnold said Baldwin “would not want it to be about him.”
“When we got to meet with him, he was a really humble guy,” Arnold said. “A lot of athletes kinda have a pride thing about them and Doug said he has struggled with pride before. We all have.
“He said how close he is with his family, how he wants to serve the community. He wants to help others.”
His father, Doug Baldwin Sr., is running for Escambia County Sheriff. The elder Baldwin stood in for his son at the recent Pensacola Sports Awards Banquet, where Baldwin was named the 2015 pro athlete of the year.
Baldwin went from Gulf Breeze High to Stanford University, after going virtually unrecruited by schools during his prep career. He led the Cardinal in receiving as a senior, earned his degree at Stanford, then made the Seahawks roster as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
During the 2015 season, Baldwin set a Seahawks franchise record with 14 touchdown receptions. He went through a four-game stretch of catching at least two TD passes each game, matching a streak that only Calvin Johnson and Cris Carter attained in the NFL since 1960.
In meeting with Arnold and Payne, Baldwin said he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.
“He talked about how you are able to have a close and personal relationship with God in your life, your career, and have balance. He is all about faith, family and football,” Arnold said.
“He said, ‘If I can leverage my influence in the NFL to point people to Jesus, that’s how I want to live my life.’ ”
Momentum Church had four services Sunday, with two others at its location in Navarre.