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Brunson accepts call to pastor First Baptist, Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Members of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., voted to call Mac Brunson as senior pastor in a Feb. 19 vote.

Brunson has been senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas since 1999.

In a special called business meeting following the morning worship service, Judson Whorton, chairman of the pulpit committee, told the congregation that Brunson was the unanimous recommendation of the committee. The motion was made and seconded to call Brunson and those in favor were asked to stand.

Acknowledging the throng of congregants who stood in favor of calling Brunson, Nelson Sturgill, chairman of the deacons and the moderator of the meeting, asked Brunson to accept the invitation after looking out over the auditorium and noting, “[T]hat looks like the vast majority of us.”

“I can’t imagine God bringing me to such a wonderful place like this,” Brunson said emotionally at being called to the 28,000-member church. “But in my heart, I sense this is where God has called me, and with your help, I will do my best to be your pastor.”

First Baptist Jacksonville announced Feb. 12 that Brunson would preach in view of a call Feb. 19. The announcement came five days after Jerry Vines –- pastor of First Baptist Jacksonville for more than 23 years -– preached his final sermon to the congregation, which has been led by a series of co-pastors, starting with Homer Lindsay Sr., and continuing with Homer Lindsay Jr. and Vines.

First Baptist Church in Dallas reported on their Web site that Brunson’s last Sunday there will be March 5.

Brunson was pastor of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, N.C., from 1992-1999, and previously served in churches in Virginia and South Carolina. He was president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in 2003 and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 1997-1999.

Brunson and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 26 years and have three children: Courtney, Trey and Willis.

A news release from First Baptist Dallas noted, “Our church has grown spiritually and in number under Dr. Brunson’s leadership. We pray for the Brunson family as they prepare for their new ministry at the great First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, and we look forward to the exciting days ahead for First Baptist Dallas as we continue our ministry and mission in downtown Dallas and around the world.”

Brunson was one of the featured speakers at this year’s Pastors’ Conference at First Baptist Jacksonville, and Vines called him out of the audience to pray at the beginning of the Feb. 7 service in which Vines preached. While never mentioning any future plans, some viewed the act as an implicit signal of Brunson’s future call to Jacksonville after months of speculation in Florida and Texas that he would be Vines’ successor.
Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.floridabaptistwitness.com.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan