DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)–On Aug. 28, David Cox became senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla. On Jan. 24, he resigned.
Cox became co-pastor of First Baptist on Aug. 1, 2003, serving alongside Bobby Welch who served the church for 32 years as pastor, and who retired Aug. 28 last year. Welch is immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is pastor emeritus of First Baptist.
Addressing more than 500 people in the members-only Wednesday night meeting, Cox read from a prepared statement which he later released to Baptist Press. The statement is presented in its entirety.
“On Aug. 1, 2003, I became your co-pastor and on Aug. 28, 2006, I became your senior pastor. It has been a privilege and joy to serve you and be a part of all that Almighty God wants to do with His beautiful Bride at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach. There have been a number of high moments and victories won and it has been especially blessing to see a number of lives truly changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. For these experiences my family and I will be forever grateful to you.
“Over the past several weeks, First Baptist Church has undergone a season of extreme duress and difficulty. Two weeks ago tonight, at a town hall meeting to discuss impending matters [a member] said to all present at that meeting, ‘Please don’t make me choose.’ Given present dynamics and poised circumstances, I believe that any continued service and ministry here, on my part, would not be productive toward future growth and health.
“Furthermore, the personal stress and toll on my wife and family has been extreme. As is the case with each of you, my family is the most vital and important part of my life with the exception of my personal relationship to Jesus Christ my Lord.
“While it has been encouraging to be approached by so many of you regarding the starting of a new, local work in the area, I have no plans to do so. To the contrary, to do so would only cause more division and difficulty, and I am hoping that my complete removal from this church’s life will bring healing and forward progress for the glory of God. We are all praying that healing can occur and be ushered in quickly.
“As for me and my family, I have absolutely no idea before you tonight as to what I and my family will do from here – or where – or when. I only know that our God reigns and that He is faithful and true and that HE will not only give clear direction to First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach in the days just ahead, but He will also direct my path and that of my family.
“We will always thank God for these days with you and will continue to serve our Lord as you do — just from another place and perspective. The personal friendships that have been forged here with many of you are not only highly valued and precious to us, but will hopefully continue for years and years in the lifetime ahead.
“With that said, I prayerfully offer my resignation to all members and friends of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, effective midnight tonight and pray that the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will fall on each of us in the days ahead. As the Apostle Paul said, and perhaps you share my heart in this matter, ‘Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:13-14).”
Following a closing prayer by Welch, hundreds of members lined the two centermost aisles of the church to hug Cox and bid him farewell.
In an interview after the meeting, Cox told Baptist Press he intends to remain in the area at least until May so two of his three children can finish the school year.
Saying he intends to spend time with his family, Cox also said he is “open to do supply preaching or serve as an interim pastor until God opens another door for us — and I am confident He will.”
Cox noted his gratitude for the many pastors, leaders and laypeople across the Southern Baptist Convention regarding their encouraging notes, phone calls and e-mails citing their support and prayers for him, his family and the church.
The F.A.I.T.H. evangelism strategy, available through LifeWay Christian Resources, originated at FBC Daytona Beach.