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Carl Bates, former SBC president, dies at 85 at his N.C. residence


HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (BP)–Carl E. Bates, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and two state Baptist conventions, died at home during the evening of Dec. 21 to fast-moving cancer diagnosed earlier in the month. Bates, of Horse Shoe, N.C., was 85.

Bates was SBC president from 1970-72 and also had served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

He was a member of the committee of state convention presidents who framed the SBC’s 1963 Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said of Bates, “In many ways, we stand on the shoulders of those who have preceded us. From his college days when he was converted to Christ, Dr. Bates was a contributor to Southern Baptists and to the kingdom of God as a pastor, a preacher, a seminary professor and a denominational leader.

“I was a young preacher when Dr. Bates was elected president of our convention,” Chapman reflected. “In response to a probing question asked during his post-election interview, Bro. Bates said, ‘I am but a pastor.’ I believe it expressed both the humility of his spirit and the joy he felt at serving in that high calling. I took him to mean that in spite of all the honor associated with being elected president, there was no higher honor than to be called ‘pastor.’ He will be remembered, and he will be missed. We express our heartfelt sympathy to Mrs. Bates and Judy upon their loss, and commend them to the grace of God.”

Bates’ ministry included a 21-year pastorate at First Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C., beginning in 1959. He also was pastor of First Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas, from 1950-59; First Baptist Church, Texarkana, Texas, 1947-50; and of churches in Leesburg, Fla., and Winchester, Ky.


He also taught five years as senior professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. The Carl E. Bates Chair of Preaching is named in his honor there.

A native of Liberty, Miss., who was baptized at age 19 at First Baptist Church, Summit, Miss., Bates earned an undergraduate degree from Mississippi College at Clinton and, in 1941, a theology degree from Southern Seminary.

In the SBC, Bates was president of the Pastors’ Conference in 1962; a two-term member of the former Home Mission Board; and a member of the Baptist World Alliance’s General Council.

Bates is survived by his wife, Myra, who was elected an SBC vice president in 1976, one daughter, Judith Stoneham; two grandsons; and a brother and sister, Eugene Bates and Mildred Day, both of Baton Rouge, La.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 23 at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, N.C., with burial in Shepherd Memorial Park, Hendersonville. Thos. Arrangements are being handled by Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors, Hendersonville.