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2 pastors to be nominated to lead Pastors’ Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)-Two high-profile pastors will be nominated for president of the annual Pastors’ Conference prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Salt Lake City in June.
Mike Hamlet, pastor of First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg, S.C., will be nominated for president while Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn., told Baptist Press he has been asked to be nominated and it is likely he will consent.
The Pastors’ Conference is held the Sunday and Monday before the start of the SBC annual meeting June 9-11. Like the SBC annual meeting, the Pastors’ Conference will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Houston, will nominate Hamlet. Young, a former SBC president, told Baptist Press Hamlet is a “fine young man. He will make a real difference.” Young said Hamlet “has built a great church” in North Spartanburg.
Sutton said it has not been decided yet who will nominate him in Salt Lake City.
A third potential candidate is considering the nomination. Rick Warren, high-profile pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church, Lake Forest, Calif., told Baptist Press he has been asked but hasn’t yet decided. Warren is pastor of a congregation with an average attendance of more than 14,000, the largest in the SBC, a spokesman said.
The Pastors’ Conference has been seen in the past as a springboard to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Both are honorary positions without pay but with considerable influence.
The Pastors’ Conference attracts thousands of pastors every year who come early as part of the SBC annual meeting. The high-profile conference — primarily preaching and music — begins Sunday afternoon and concludes Monday evening. Election of a president to succeed Claude Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, will come Monday afternoon. A vice president and secretary also will be elected.
Hamlet, 48, has been pastor of the largest Southern Baptist congregation in South Carolina since 1985. He is the current president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and has held a number of denominational and civic positions.
The North Spartanburg church has led the state in baptisms eight of the last 10 years and three times has recorded 3,000-plus in Sunday school, the only South Carolina church to record that total in its Bible studies.
Hamlet was associate pastor of Second Baptist Church, Houston, for six years and campus minister at First Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C., for three years. He earned a bachelor of arts in business degree from Furman University, Greenville, and a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
Sutton, 46, has been pastor of the largest congregation in Nashville since 1986. The membership has grown from 4,500 to more than 6,500, with an average attendance of more than 2,100. The church campus, with a 3,700-seat auditorium, sits on approximately 50 acres across from the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Hotel.
A native of Mobile, Ala., Sutton received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and the master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Prior to his Nashville pastorate, Sutton was pastor of the Wedgewood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Sutton has been a member of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s executive board, the SBC Sunday School Board and several committees of the SBC. He is a contributing writer for the Sunday School Board, has a daily television ministry, and is a popular conference speaker.

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  • Herb Hollinger