Ala. pastor to lead SBC Pastors' Conference

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Members of the SBC Pastors' Conference elected Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Ala., as the group's president during their annual meeting at the Indianapolis Convention Center June 13.

Gaines defeated Terry Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., as pastors stood to vote. The election was unusual because it was contested, unlike most years when a single nominee for each office has been presented.

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., nominated Gaines, calling him one who has "the mind of a scholar and the heart of a personal soul-winner."

Hunt also told the gathering he had been asked to nominate Gaines by Adrian Rogers, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

"Dr. Rogers, when he realized that his health would keep him from attending, called and asked if I would place [Gaines'] name in nomination," Hunt explained.

Hunt read from an e-mail he received from Rogers: "I'm sorry that I cannot be present to nominate Steve Gaines.... Steve is a man among men. He is a mighty preacher of God's Word, a man who walks in holiness and a pastor of a growing and vibrant church."

The Gardendale congregation has been either first or second in the number of baptisms among Southern Baptist churches in Alabama during the past nine years, Hunt said.

He called Gaines "a preacher's preacher. When you're with Dr. Gaines, you're aware that you're with a man that's been with God. I know of no Southern Baptist pastor that I respect more than Dr. Steve Gaines."

Stan Coffey, pastor of San Jacinto Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas, nominated Terry Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church and trustee chairman of the SBC's North American Mission Board.

"Terry Fox is the right man at the right place at the right time for our Pastors' Conference," said Coffey, who had announced his intention to nominate Fox through Baptist Press in January.

Since moving from Texas to his present church in Kansas, Fox has seen the congregation grow from 600 in attendance to more than 2,600, Coffey noted.

"We say that we are a denomination of all of North America, and yet I cannot remember electing a man from the Midwest to head our Pastors Conference," Coffey pointed out. "Why don't we make a statement today that we are a denomination of all of North America and not just from the South?"

Ted Traylor, this year's Pastors Conference president, asked his other officers to help him observe the standing vote.

Before the vote took place, Traylor reminded the conferees: "This is a Pastors' Conference. ... We let anybody come, but only pastors vote when we get ready to elect our leaders. ... There are no ballot votes at the Pastors' Conference. We can't do that. We don't have ways of doing it."

Other officers elected were: first vice president, Scott Wilkins, identified as a church planter by his nominator, Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., and secretary-treasurer, David Thompson, pastor of North Pointe Community Church in Old Hickory, Tenn. Thompson was nominated by Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.


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