SBTC elects Forney pastor, approves $27.1 million budget

Also embraces "Look Like Heaven" emphasis to encourage cross-cultural relationships and witness

AMARILLO—The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention elected Forney pastor Jimmy Pritchard as its new president, approved a 2014 Cooperative Program budget of $27,149,526—a 3.06 percent increase—and embraced a five-year “Look Like Heaven” emphasis from its Executive Board and outgoing president.

Messengers to the convention elected Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, by acclamation. In nominating him, Byron McWilliams of First Baptist Church of Odessa pointed to Pritchard’s service in local churches, involvement in denominational work and leadership qualities as the reason he believed Pritchard a good choice for president.

Under Pritchard’s leadership, FBC Forney has given more than $6.1 million to missions, gained more than 4,100 new members, baptized more than 2,100 and seen 38 of its congregation surrender to ministry.

McWilliams cited Pritchard’s service on the boards of Criswell College and the International Mission Board as further evidence of his heart to serve and share the gospel.

Overall, McWilliams said Pritchard’s leadership prowess would enable him to guide the convention well.

Messengers also elected James Egan, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, as vice president and elected Dante Wright, pastor of Sweet Home Baptist Church in Round Rock, as recording secretary.

David Wilson, pastor of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, nominated Egan, telling messengers of Egan’s seminary education, service on convention committees and adjunct professorship and teaching both in the United States and abroad. Wilson said he highly recommended Egan for the office, calling him a “tried and true Southern Baptist.”

Steve Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville, nominated Wright and spoke of the 10-year football coaching career the pastor had before he received his call to ministry from the Lord. 

“After 10 years of very successful coaching, God’s call to the ministry on his life became more powerful than his love of sports,” Washburn said.

Washburn said that church where Wright became pastor grew from 25 to 800 people in less than one year. He said when Wright arrived at Sweet Home, the church had 16 members. Today it has 1,800.

Both men ran unopposed and were elected by a unanimous vote.

The next year’s operating budget of $27,149,526 reflects an ongoing commitment to missions, with 55 percent of undesignated receipts being passed on for Southern Baptist Convention ministries worldwide and 45 percent retained for Texas missions. Church planting and evangelism remain the two largest line items of the SBTC in-state budget.

The meeting drew 1,002 registered messengers and guests.

LOOK LIKE HEAVEN

The convention’s Executive Board, taking the lead of outgoing President Terry Turner of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, is leading to convention to embark on a five-year “Look Like Heaven” emphasis to spur cross-cultural worship and cooperation within the convention. 

In his President’s Address on Monday night (Oct. 28), Turner quipped, “Now don’t come to the black church and act like you’re black, come to the black church and act like you are. … Let’s everybody be ourselves” while celebrating the unity that exists in Christ. 

Turner is encouraging churches to exchange preachers and host joint worship services, to set aside July for special efforts to foster cross-cultural relationships, and to work together in developing greater missional cooperation year round. 

“The good news is God has brought the nations to us,” David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, told messengers during the Executive Board report. Fleming is the Look Like Heaven committee chair. 

“The diversity of the nations lives within the borders of the state of Texas and our communities. As a convention, we understand we can more effectively reach our communities for Christ when we more intentionally reflect the diversity that is in our communities.” 

OTHER BUSINESS

The convention presented the H. Paul Pressler Award to GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins. The award is given annually at the SBTC meeting for distinguished service to Southern Baptists. Prior to GuideStone, the Fort Worth native served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas (1993-1997), First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (1978-1993), First Baptist Church of Ada, Okla., (1974-1978) and First Baptist Church of Hobart, Okla., (1972-1974).  

Messengers also approved nine resolutions addressing religious liberty in America; violent and sexual content in video games; immigration reform; commending Texas lawmakers for protecting women via pro-life legislation; worldwide Christian persecution; Cooperative Program and missions giving; Billy Graham and commitment to evangelism; the “Look Like Heaven” emphasis; and appreciation for Turner, the outgoing president. 

BIBLE CONFERENCE

The SBTC Bible Conference elected new officers and drew a capacity crowd for its Ministry Café on Monday (Oct. 28).

The new Bible Conference president is Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, elected by acclamation after being nominated by Jimmy Draper, longtime pastor and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Scott Maze, pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church, was elected unopposed as first vice president, nominated by First Baptist Farmersville pastor Bart Barber.

Dongsun Cho, associate pastor of Hanuri Church of Carrollton and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary, was elected unopposed as second vice president, nominated by Jason Duesing, vice president of strategic initiatives and theology professor at Southwestern.

The 2014 annual meeting and Bible Conference will be Nov. 9-11 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

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Sharayah Colter & Jerry Pierce
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