BRANDON, Fla. (BP)–Florida pastor Forrest Pollock and a 13-year-old son were killed May 12 when the single-engine plane Pollock was flying crashed in North Carolina.
Pollock, 44, had been senior pastor of the Tampa-area Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon since 2002.
According to the Citizen-Times in Asheville, N.C., rescue officials confirmed the deaths of Pollock and his son, Preston, who were reported missing after their 5 a.m. takeoff from an airport in Rutherfordton, N.C. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Pollock had flown to North Carolina to see his mother on Mother’s Day. The Times also reported that one of Pollock’s daughters, Brooke, 14, had gone along but had stayed with her grandmother. Pollock planned to stop in Arkansas to pick up a friend before heading to Texas for a preaching engagement.
Debris from the single-engine Piper PA-32-260 was found Tuesday morning by rescuers in a heavily wooded area in the western part of the state, on a ridge north of Cold Mountain in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
Pollock is survived by his wife Dawn and five other children, Courtney, 15; Brooke, 14; Hope, 12; Blake, 10; and Kirk, 8.
Shortly after noon May 12, the website of the 6,000-member Bell Shoals congregation stated, “We grieve with hope and assurance that our Lord Jesus will lead us and carry us through these difficult times. We have lost a great brother, pastor and friend in Forrest Pollock as well as a precious little brother in Christ, Preston Pollock.”
Referencing the rescue workers in North Carolina, the website added, “We owe a great thanks to those who risked their lives, endured extreme hardship, and worked non-stop in the attempt to rescue our pastor and his son.”
Pollock was to have been a featured speaker at the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis. He also had been appointed to serve on the convention’s Committee on Committees.
In 2006, Pollock nominated Frank Page to serve as SBC president during the annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., and he was a member of the Resolutions Committee that year.
Pollock also was president of the Large Church Roundtable, a gathering he founded in 1999 for pastors of large churches who meet for fellowship and sharing ideas.
Page, who will conclude his SBC presidency in June, told Baptist Press, “We are deeply grieved and in a state of shock that someone so young, so promising was taken so early.” Heaven is “a richer place today because of the presence of Forrest and Preston Pollock,” Page said.
“I know I speak for our entire convention in expressing our appreciation for his ministry and our prayers for Dawn and the other five children and the precious people of the Bell Shoals Baptist Church.”
Page said he and Pollock became friends through the Large Church Roundtable. “Forrest quickly endeared himself to me and to everyone present with his kind heart, his competency in ministry and his sweet spirit. He was a man who was self-effacing and had a tremendous sense of humor.”
Page said he had been scheduled to preach at Bell Shoals during the Memorial Day weekend. “I pray that I will be able to speak a word of comfort and direction” to the church’s members, he said.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said in a statement “our hearts are heavy” for the family and he described Pollock as widely “trusted, respected and admired.” Chapman said Preston was “so full of promise and was a source of joy to their whole family.”
“Dr. Pollock served Southern Baptists in numerous ways, nominating our current president, serving on the Resolutions Committee and the Committee on Committees, and was scheduled to preach at next month’s annual meeting in Indianapolis,” Chapman continued. “Perhaps his greatest contribution to Southern Baptists was through his work as a member of the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life from 2001-03. This council helped us recover our focus as Kingdom families by emphasizing seven pillars for family health and spiritual vitality. Not only did Forrest Pollock help author this report, he lived out these values in his own home and ministry.
“I know all Southern Baptists join me in asking the Lord to strengthen his wife Dawn and their surviving children Courtney, Brooke, Hope, Blake and Kirk today and in the days to come as they deal with the reality and shock of such a great loss; to sustain them by His mercy and grace in the following months as they learn to lean on the Lord in new ways; and to lead them gently to see and feel His faithfulness to them,” Chapman said.
James T. Draper Jr., president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, said in a statement to Baptist Press he is grieving over “the death of one of our most gifted young pastors in the SBC,” whom he had known for 10-plus years.
“His influence was beginning to rise and his love for the Lord, his family and Southern Baptists is one example that will be sorely missed,” Draper said. “… His leadership especially among younger pastors will be greatly missed.”
John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, told the Florida Baptist Witness that Pollock was a “committed leader in his church and his denomination.”
“There is no way to estimate the loss of one of God’s good men like Forrest Pollock,” Sullivan said. “He led Bell Shoals in an exciting and godly manner.”
William Rice, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, told the Witness, “While this sudden and untimely death of so gifted a man in the prime of his ministry, not to mention the death of his son who had just begun to live, is one of the imponderable mysteries of life, we are comforted in knowing that Dr. Pollock spent his life pointing to the one whose life and power transcends time, space and death itself.
“The truth he built his life upon and invested his life in will sustain us through this time of loss,” said Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.
Pollock, a native of Oklahoma City, was a journalism graduate of the University of Oklahoma who later earned master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. At the time of his death, he was working toward a liberal arts master’s degree through Harvard.
Prior to assuming Bell Shoals’ pastorate, he was senior pastor of Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., from 1997-2002; senior pastor of Rosen Heights Baptist Church in Fort Worth from 1994-97; and associate pastor of church growth at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano from 1992-94.
He was the author of two books: “The Last Sermon I Would Preach If Jesus Were Coming Tomorrow” (2007) and “Ten Habits of Highly Effective People” (2000).
Before entering the ministry, Pollock worked in communications and at age of 25, as president and CEO of PDC Multimedia Productions in Norman, Okla., was named Young Business Owner of the Year by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Funeral arrangements for Pollock were incomplete at press time.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, on the Web at www.floridabaptistwitness.com.