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Bill Self dies; was ’79 SBC president nominee

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (BP) — Bill Self, one of several nominees when the late Adrian Rogers was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, died Jan. 9 of complications from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

At the 1979 SBC annual meeting in Houston, Rogers garnered a first-ballot victory for SBC president with a majority of the votes cast by messengers, followed by Robert Naylor, retired president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, and Self. Three others, including then-Baylor University President Abner McCall, also were nominated.

Self, then-pastor of Atlanta’s Wieuca Road Baptist Church, had been president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1976-77 and president (now called chairman) of the trustees of the SBC’s then-Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) from 1977-79.

Self delivered the convention sermon at the 1977 SBC annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo., and was elected as SBC second vice president at the 1978 annual meeting in Atlanta.

He led Atlanta’s Wieuca Road Baptist Church from 1964-90 and the Atlanta-area Johns Creek Baptist Church (formerly First Baptist Church in Chamblee, Ga.) from 1991 until his retirement in 2011 at age 79.

He was 83 when he died Jan. 9, one day short of his 84th birthday.

Self became involved with Baptist moderates’ breakaway Cooperative Baptist Fellowship when it was formed in 1991. He was a member of the CBF Coordinating Council and its Global Missions Initiative Team from 2006-09.

Self had listed Winston-Salem, N.C., as his place of birth in 1932 and that his family moved to Florida in 1938. The Atlanta Journal (now The Atlanta Journal Constitution) noted in an article the day before the 1979 vote the Florida connection between Self and Rogers: “Their home churches were 20 miles apart. They entered Stetson University on the same day and graduated on the same day.”

After graduating from Stetson in 1954, Self earned a divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

Soon after leaving Wieuca Road’s pastorate in August 1990, Self was named president of a new independent financial services company, Stoneworth Annuity and Trust, for ministers and church staff, according to a Baptist Press story on Sept. 10, 1990, and a PR Newswire report on Sept. 4. The business also was featured by the magazine Investment Vision in its April-May 1991 edition. The current status of the company is not readily apparent in an Internet search.

Also during his career, Self was a member of the SBC Resolutions Committee in 1976; chairman of the Committee on Committees in 1977; chairman of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee in 1975; and a vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 1958 when he was a pastor in Rocky Mount.

Self is survived by his wife Carolyn; two sons; and two grandsons.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at Johns Creek Baptist Church.