Pastors' Conf. nominee announced
Updated 12:12 p.m. Eastern, July 9, 2007
The June 10-11 Pastors' Conference precedes the Southern Baptist Convention's June 12-13 annual meeting in San Antonio.
Catt has led Sherwood Baptist since 1989 -- a "multi-generational, multi-cultural church" that "draws its membership from 29 surrounding communities in southwest Georgia," Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., told the Florida Baptist Witness.
Whitten said the numerical growth of Catt's church -– including averaging 100 baptisms annually and the addition of 5,000 people to the church's ministry -– is an "indication of dynamic leadership." But Whitten said Catt's pastoral innovation, multiplication and work in racial reconciliation are factors that have prompted him to nominate Catt.
Sherwood's production of the family friendly and popular movie "Facing the Giants" and other films is an example of Catt's pastoral innovation, Whitten said.
The church has learned "via e-mail that over 3,000 people have come to Christ" as a result of Facing the Giants, and "the film is being shown on major airlines' overseas flights around the world, on the Disney Cruise line, and over 6,000 churches have purchased a screening license to show the film as an outreach event this year," Whitten said.
Noting that the church is working on its third film, Whitten said Catt and his congregation have been sacrificial in their efforts.
"This kind of innovation says that while some preach against and shout at a growing secular mindset in our society, Michael Catt and the wonderful people at Sherwood are rolling up their sleeves and making a financial investment to change that mindset and be the salt and light to an industry that needs a demonstration not condemnation," Whitten said.
Catt's "heart for pastors and ministers is noteworthy" and illustrates the multiplication of his ministry, Whitten said, pointing to the establishment of the Ron Dunn Center for Biblical Studies in conjunction with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary extension center in Albany, as well as Catt's work with Warren Wiersbe in beginning "2 Prophet U" and the Bridge Builders Conference that teaches expository preaching. Catt also is the founder of Refresh, an annual conference on revival and spiritual awakening in which 30 small church and bivocational pastors are given scholarships to attend.
"While many are talking about leaving a legacy, Dr. Michael Catt is using all the resources available to multiply himself and others to the next generation of preachers to ensure the Word of God will be preached generation to generation," Whitten said.
Whitten also said Catt's ministry has modeled reconciliation in his efforts to promote unity and understanding among different races in Albany and Dougherty County, earning him local awards in 1999 and 2003.
"The city where Michael pastors is 70 percent African American and 30 percent Anglo," Whitten said. "It is no wonder with a heart for the nations and demonstrating the ministry of reconciliation, Sherwood's membership includes people from 11 different countries, and he has African Americans in leadership positions on staff, on the platform and in committee structure throughout his church." Catt's leadership of the Pastors' Conference, Whitten added, "would demonstrate the variety so needed in our denomination to show Southern Baptist who we really are."
Catt received a bachelor's degree from Mississippi College, a master of divinity degree from Luther Rice Bible Seminary and doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Theological Seminary.
Catt and his wife Terri have been married 33 years and have two children.
Information for Sherwood Baptist Church from Southern Baptists' Annual Church Profile survey for the most recent year, 2006, lists 86 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,451. The church gave $125,000, or 3.6 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $3,484,786. According to the ACP, the church's total mission expenditures were $201,715, including $18.609 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $9,304 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
James A. Smith Sr., is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, newspaper of the Florida Baptist Convention, online at www.floridabaptistwitness.com.