Gary grew up in San Antonio, Texas, the son of architect Ed Nicholson. While attending the University of Texas at Austin he gave his life to Christ, and as he was completing his degree in architecture God gave him an overwhelming desire to prepare for full-time ministry in the local church.
As a newlywed, Gary moved to New Orleans, where he earned a Master of Divinity Degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His first full-time ministry was at First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, Texas serving as Minister of Youth. After four years there Gary received a call from Calvary Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. He served five years on their education staff, ministering to students and coordinating the church recreation program. He became a sought-after speaker and mentor to student and youth ministry leaders across the U.S. Gary then moved to Corsicana, Texas to serve First Baptist Church as their Minister to Youth and then moved back to San Antonio where he worked alongside his father designing several church projects in the San Antonio area and learning more about working with and designing churches. He learned to make it his mission to better help church committees and their leaders navigate the planning and building process. Gary began to develop a ministry to the church so that through the design of temporal buildings he could have an eternal impact on their community and the world.
In 1992 the Baptist Sunday School Board called Gary and invited him to consider joining the architecture staff to consult with and advise churches on their facility needs. It was a dream job for Gary, combining his architectural training and experience with his love for and experience with the local church. He was now in a key position to help more churches in one of the most critical times in the life of a church. As the Sunday School Board became LifeWay Christian Resources, Gary was instrumental in developing new ways to more effectively help churches. Gary was instrumental in developing an in-depth and professional approach for LifeWay. In 2006 Gary was promoted to be the new Director of LifeWay Architecture.
In addition to providing advice and design services for hundreds of churches, he has always embraced the opportunity to educate leaders in the building process. He has taught dozens of building conferences for WFX, local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention, traveling all across the U.S. teaching church leaders and fellow architects on many different aspects of the building process. Out of his desire to teach and assist church leaders, he wrote a book published by LifeWay in 2010 called Building Momentum. It provides practical guidance on a wide variety of topics in the building process and includes advice and help for leaders to prepare mentally and spiritually for the building process.
In 2013 LifeWay changed the way it addressed the architectural needs of churches by partnering with a firm called Visioneering Studios. Gary served as the Studio Director of Visioneering Studios at LifeWay for two years before leaving to take on a new role as a sole practitioner in his private practice. He continues to minister to pastors and building teams across the country to assist with all aspects of the planning and building process. He has written blogs and numerous articles for periodicals, and occasionally blogs to continue to share his knowledge of the planning and building process. He serves as a guest lecturer and on the Board of Advisers for California Baptist University's School of Architecture and sometimes partners with other entities such as Cornerstone Collaborative, ReThink Ministry, and Church Interiors, Inc.
Gary and his wife of over 42 years have two children and four grandchildren. They make their home outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where Gary enjoys traveling, gardening, golf and geeking-out on Star Wars, Marvel movies and other sci-fi nonsense.
Gary has been uniquely trained and gifted to be able to assist churches through design and giving wise counsel seasoned by years of experience. It is his love for the Church – the Bride of Christ - that drives him to continue to walk alongside leaders to help them enrich and enlarge the Kingdom in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Active Architectural Registrations:
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
National Trust For Historic Preservation
California Baptist University School of Architecture Board of Advisers
Cornerstone Collaborative - Lead Navigator