Three Texans recommended to committee tasked with finding next SWBTS president

FORT WORTH—A nine-member presidential search committee announced Aug. 23 by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee chairman Kevin Ueckert includes three Texans—Jamie Green of Katy, Philip Levant of Hurst and Danny Roberts of North Richland Hills.

Roberts, executive pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church, was named to serve as chairman. A 1979 SWBTS alumnus, he received a master of church music degree, and began serving as a trustee in 2016, sitting on the communications, policies, and strategic initiatives committee.

Green, a layperson who began serving in 2013, is a retired speech-language pathologist and member of Houston’s First Baptist Church, and was named to serve as secretary of the search committee. Levant began serving on the trustee board in 2015 and is pastor of Iglesia Bautista LaVid in Hurst. He received the master of church music degree in 2002 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies.

Remaining members are Denise Ewing of Illinois, Guy Grimes of California, Todd Houston of North Carolina, Tom James of Kentucky, Andre Palmer of New York and Calvin Wittman of Colorado.  Trustee chair Kevin Ueckert and vice chairman Connie Hancock will serve as ex officio members of the committee.

The seminary’s release indicated that the committee’s composition includes two women, one African-American, and one Hispanic. The committee also is mixed geographically and in terms of trustee tenure (with five being in their first five-year term and the other four in their second five-year term). Levant and Green also serve on the executive committee, as do ex-officio members Ueckert and Hancock.

In naming the committee, Ueckert stated, “Between now and the October Board meeting, the presidential search committee will be focused on developing the candidate profile and the application process, as well as entering a time of focused prayer.” In the meantime, nominations and expressions of interest should be submitted to

The full board will have an opportunity to approve Ueckert’s selections in accordance with the bylaws at their regular meeting Oct. 16-17.

More often than not, the search committee is named and approved at the same meeting that a transition is announced, however time was not allotted for that on May 14 when the board closed out their 13-hour executive session at 3 a.m. after dismissing Paige Patterson as president.

When SWBTS President Kenneth Hemphill announced his retirement April 8, 2003, to accept a position as the national strategist of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative, a search committee was named the same day and took two and one-half months before recommending Patterson who was elected unanimously by the board.

Hemphill had been approved unanimously by the board, four months after a search committee was announced on March 9, 1994, shortly after Russell Dilday was dismissed as president.

In contrast, the committee that ultimately recommended Dilday was announced several months after SWBTS President Robert Naylor gave trustees two and one-half years’ notice of his retirement plan. The presidential search committee took 20 months before announcing Dilday as their choice to become president-elect in at the beginning of 1978 and assume presidential duties Aug. 1, 1978 when Naylor completed a 20-year tenure.

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