COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP)—South Carolina Baptist Convention messengers unanimously elected Tony Wolfe as the new executive director-treasurer (EDT) Monday afternoon (March 20) in a special called meeting at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.
Wolfe begins work April 1 and will replace Gary Hollingsworth, who is retiring after serving in the office for eight years.
Search Committee Chairman Ian Geimer said the process of finding God’s man to lead South Carolina Baptists required months of interviews, research, prayer, and discussion, but in the end, Wolfe emerged as the clear choice as EDT-elect.
“Our committee was thoroughly impressed and pleased with the candidates brought before us,” Geimer said. “Through a very competitive interview process, Dr. Tony Wolfe emerged as the frontrunner for South Carolina’s next executive director-treasurer.
“We believe Dr. Tony Wolfe’s qualifications begin with his love for Jesus. Ever since his salvation, he has dedicated his life to loving, following, and trusting the Lord. This love for God is best exemplified in his being a godly husband to Vanessa, a godly father to Ethan and Aaron. It was also recognized by our committee his humble nature, the numerous testimonies to his godly character, and his unrelenting desire to go only where God calls him.”
Wolfe, a Louisiana native, comes to South Carolina after having served as associate executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention since 2017. The 40-year-old Wolfe is the son of a Baptist pastor, came to a saving relationship with Christ at a young age and began in ministry at a relatively young age. He has served in Texas and Louisiana in various ministry positions, including pastor, worship leader, counselor, educator, and denominational leader, with 23 years of ministry experience.
Wolfe said it became clear to him early in the process that God was calling him to serve Baptist churches of South Carolina.
“After my first interview with the search committee, I was convicted and convinced that there was something special happening here,” Wolfe said. “It was actually at dinner; we sat around, and we talked, and I asked questions, and they asked questions.
“They asked everything you hoped they’d ask. Then over dinner, I felt there was something special that happened, so much so that on the way back to the hotel, I called my bride and said, ‘Babe, I don’t know how to put this into words right now, but something special just happened.’”
Wolfe outlined three priorities that will occupy the first six months of his work: meeting Baptists of South Carolina, asking them questions and building trust.
Wolfe also listed five priorities for his life and ministry, priorities to which Wolfe pledged to give his full attention:
“Because I am at my best with people when I am on my knees before God,” he said. “South Carolina Baptists, prayer is not a really good part of our program, prayer is the program. We can have all the staff and resources, but if the Holy Spirit doesn’t breathe on them, nothing happens.”
“Because I live and lead in wisdom when I am faithful to God’s Word,” he said. “The Bible is the perfect treasure of divine instruction, we’ve commonly confessed. It is our supreme standard. … We don’t have to agree on every little interpretation of Scripture, but we do have to stand together on the inerrancy, inspiration, infallibility, sufficiency and authority of God’s great Word.”
“Because my message is urgent and my time is short,” Wolfe said. “I’m committed to investing every minute for the rest of my life for God’s global glory through the advancement of the Gospel. The message of the Gospel is not complicated, but it is urgent. God has entrusted to us 5.3 million South Carolinians, 8 billion image bearers — citizens of the planet earth, for us to reach with the Gospel before it is everlastingly too late. … Let’s stay laser-focused on the mission.”
“Because how I do anything is how I will do everything,” he said. “I want to brush my teeth to the glory of God. At my home church, I want to set up tables and chairs to the glory of God. … Christ is worthy of excellence.”
“Because I am better when we are together,” Wolfe said. “I’m sure you’re aware that much threatens to divide us. Southern Baptists are at one of our most delicate seasons in recent history. I firmly believe South Carolina Baptists can show our larger faith family and the rest of the watching world what it looks like to love one another with the peculiar love of Christ.
“That means to stick together, to work together, to advance the Great Commission together. Our general disposition should always be toward cooperation, not away from it.”
Wolfe and his wife, Vanessa, married in 2001 and have two sons: Ethan, who serves as a youth pastor in Oklahoma and is engaged to be married in the summer, and Aaron, a high school junior.
Wolfe holds degrees from Lamar University, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He will complete a Ph.D. in evangelism and missions from Southwestern Seminary next year.
Said Wolfe, “Vanessa and I are prepared to invest the best years of our lives in united, vigorous exertion with you around one common cause.”
This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.