DALLAS—James T. “Jimmy” Draper of Colleyville begins serving as interim president of Criswell College on Nov. 1. The school’s executive board met Oct. 25, selecting the well-known pastor to lead until a new president is selected to replace Jerry Johnson who was named president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
Draper is president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, having served the Southern Baptist entity from 1991 to 2006. He was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1982, serving two terms during the years of the denomination’s Conservative Resurgence.
The Arkansas native has pastored six churches in Texas, including First Baptist Church of Euless for 16 years, as well as Red Bridge Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., and First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla. Prior to being called to Euless, he served as associate pastor to W. A. Criswell at First Baptist Church of Dallas.
Draper’s commitment to encouraging younger leaders of the SBC prompted him to travel across the country in 2004 for what became known as the Younger Leader Initiative.
A graduate of Baylor University, Draper received a master of arts in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He later served on the board of trustees at both institutions.
“Jimmy Draper will provide a wonderful transition for the future of Criswell College,” stated board Chairman-elect John Mann, pastor of La Junta Baptist Church in Springtown. “We are excited about the fidelity to Scriptures as well as the compassionate leadership that has come to define Dr. Draper’s ministry.”
Current board Chairman Keet Lewis also observed that because Draper assisted founder W.A. Criswell during the school’s formative years, he has been privy to the college’s vision from the beginning, and is uniquely positioned in this interim role to guide the college toward its expanded vision for the future.
Draper expressed confidence in the school’s future, telling the TEXAN, “Because of the commitment of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Criswell Foundation, you can look anyone in the eye and tell him that Criswell College will be in the future what it is today, rooted in the Word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ.”