EMPOWER ’23: Former SBTC president Turner receives W.A. Criswell Award

Terry Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, accepted the W.A. Criswell Award with his wife, Nancy (seen at back left) by his side. SBTC PHOTO

IRVING—Terry Turner, longtime pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, is the 2023 recipient of the W.A. Criswell Award for Pastoral Evangelism. Turner accepted the award during the Monday afternoon session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Empower conference.

In addition to serving as Mesquite Friendship’s founding pastor for more than 30 years, Turner was elected SBTC president in 2012-2013. He has served various boards, including Criswell College and Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary. During his leadership of Mesquite Friendship, the church has grown from five families to more than 2,000 members.

Turner is the author of God’s Amazing Grace: Reconciling Four Centuries of African American Marriages and Families. The book was honored as a top non-fiction historical work by the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society: International Book Awards Program in 2022. Turner is currently co-pastor at Friendship, alongside his son, Caleb. At the end of June, he will become pastor emeritus and Caleb will become senior pastor.

“Terry Turner has served faithfully as a pastor and has fulfilled Paul’s admonition to do the work of an evangelist,” SBTC Missional Ministries Senior Strategist Tony Mathews said. “In addition to being faithful to the Word of God and to his pastoral call, he has led many souls to Christ. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this award than Dr. Turner.”

Turner expressed gratitude for the convention “mentioning my name alongside that of W.A. Criswell.” “W.A. Criswell was one of my mentors from a distance,” he said. “He is a pastor who has shaped my ministry. I still use his study Bible and pastors’ manual in my ministry.”

Turner is a graduate of Langston University in Oklahoma and earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate at Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Nancy, have been married 40 years. They have four children and 12 grandchildren.

The Criswell Award was inaugurated in 1999 at the SBTC’s first evangelism conference. First Baptist Church of Dallas Pastor W.A. Criswell hosted that conference and was the first honoree. The convention has honored a pastor, or retired pastor, during evangelism conferences each year since.

Gary Ledbetter
Southern Baptist Texan
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