JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–Messengers to the 166th annual meeting of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Oct. 30-31 at First Baptist Church in Jackson elected Frank Pollard as president and approved a record budget to fund their Christian missionary work in the state, nation and abroad.
Pollard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, was elected to his first term as president of the convention of nearly 2,100 churches.
Pollard was nominated by Thad Moore, pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Church in Meridian. The nomination was seconded by Andy Taggart, layman and former deacon chairman at First Baptist Church in Jackson.
William P. Smith III, associational missions director for Lee County Baptist Association in Tupelo, was nominated for president by James Ray, pastor of Bunker Hill Baptist Church in Columbia. The nomination was seconded by Reggie Rhodes, layman and member of Smith’s home church, Calvary Baptist Church in Tupelo.
Pollard received 717 votes to Smith’s 192 votes.
Pollard succeeds Kermit McGregor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mendenhall, who was in his second term as president and was not eligible for reelection.
Bill Hardin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Picayune, was elected first vice president of the convention, and Ernest Sadler, associational missions director for Jackson County Baptist Association in Pascagoula, was elected second vice president.
Hardin was nominated by Keily Young, pastor of Michael Memorial Church in Gulfport. The nomination was seconded by Fay Sanders, a member of Slayden Baptist Church in Lamar, where Hardin previously served as pastor. Tim Horton, associational missions director for Kemper County Baptist Association in DeKalb, nominated Paul Blanchard, associational missions director for Winston County Baptist Association in Louisville, for the post.
Hardin received 485 votes to Blanchard’s 139 votes.
Sadler was nominated by Dennis Ray Smith, a member of First Baptist Church, Pascagoula. The nomination was seconded by Allen Stephens, associational missions director for Rankin County Baptist Association in Brandon.
Sadler was elected by acclamation.
The top three convention posts are elected for one-year terms, and office holders are traditionally eligible for election to a second one-year term at the next annual meeting.
Also reelected for one-year terms were recording secretary Gus Merritt, a retired pastor who resides in Newton, and assistant recording secretary Michael Weeks, pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Olive Branch.
Texas native Pollard, 67, has pastored First Baptist Church in Jackson for more than 21 years and is a former president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif. He has announced his retirement from the pastorate at the end of this year.
“I don’t deserve this at all, but I deeply appreciate it,” Pollard told messengers after the election. “I thank you all for the opportunity to serve you.”
Messengers overwhelmingly approved a record Cooperative Program budget of $30,047,997, an increase of 1.58 percent over the current budget. A total of 35 percent of the new budget is dedicated to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries, the same percentage as the past several years.
The theme of the annual meeting was “By Grace – Redeemed, Renewed, Restored, Resurrected.” Jeffery Parker, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Jackson, preached the convention sermon. Richard Jackson, president of the Jackson Center for Evangelism and Encouragement in Brownwood, Texas, brought the “Bible treasure” series of studies that has become a tradition at the annual meetings.
Messengers also approved resolutions dealing with:
— the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, offering sympathy to the victims and their families and urging Mississippi Baptists to “pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace.”
— domestic violence, encouraging Mississippi Baptist pastors, church staffers and volunteers to seek training on domestic violence and maintain up-to-date resources to assist victims.
— human embryonic and stem cell research, expressing concern that such research is the taking of human life that could lead to even more abortions, and asking the U.S. Congress to maintain the existing ban on the use of tax dollars to fund such research.
— the life and career of James L. Travis, who recently retired after 36 years as professor of biblical studies at Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, which is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
The final messenger count for the 2001 annual meeting was 1,232, down from the previous year’s total of 1,558. According to the 2000 Annual of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, there are 2,077 churches and 718,185 church members in the state.
The convention’s 2002 annual meeting will be Oct. 29-30 at longtime host church First Baptist in Jackson.