DALLAS (BP) – David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), has announced plans to retire following more than 10 years of service.
Hardage was appointed as executive director in January of 2012 by the BGCT Executive Board. Prior to his service with the BGCT, Hardage had served as director of development for Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. He also served as the director of the Waco Baptist Association and pastored churches in Texas and Oklahoma.
Before his role as executive director, Hardage was deeply engaged in denominational life, serving as chairman of the BGCT State Missions Commission, chairman of the BGCT Missions Funding Committee and trustee at East Texas Baptist University and Latham Springs Camp and Retreat Center. He also served on the BGCT Committee on Committees.
Hardage received his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. He also earned a master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
Hardage’s tenure as executive director was preceded by Randal Everett, who held the post from 2008 to 2011, and Charles Wade whose service spanned from 1999 to 2008, among others.
During Hardage’s tenure, the ministry of the Convention was reorganized into five ministry centers, and the Convention’s mission focused on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, or “sharing Christ and showing love.” Hardage oversaw the sale of the “Baptist Building” on Washington Avenue in downtown Dallas and the relocation of the Convention’s offices to their current location off of Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.
A hallmark of Hardage’s tenure was his weekly visits to Texas Baptists churches across the state and beyond. Within months of assuming his role, he began traveling by invitation to visit congregations, meet with pastors and church leaders and share the story of what God was doing through the collaborative ministry of the Convention.
“My favorite part of my role has always been visiting our churches and connecting with their pastors,” Hardage said.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when his travels were slowed, Hardage recorded 55 video greetings from his home to connect with and share support for church leaders.
“I really can’t overstate his positive influence upon Texas Baptists,” BGCT President Jason Burden said. “It’s not possible to say words that are powerful enough or strong enough to express my admiration for him. … His grace and demeanor and his vision for Texas Baptists over the past decade have put us in a much healthier place and a much more productive place, and I’m just thankful to God that David has given himself to serve us.”
10-year service recognition
Hardage was honored for his 10 years of service at the 2021 Texas Baptist Annual Meeting in Galveston, where a video featuring past Texas Baptists executive directors and officers, current staff and pastors and institutional presidents from around the state was shown to recognize Hardage’s contributions to the Convention.
“There’s a sweet spirit of unity and peace in the Convention right now,” Craig Christina, associate executive director of Texas Baptists, said during the service. “Brothers and sisters, that doesn’t happen by accident. That happens because of the sagacious leadership of Dr. David Hardage, who is a true peacemaker. He has a big tent vision of leading the movement of God’s people that is Texas Baptists, and we would not be where we are today without his leadership.”
Hardage’s wife, Kathleen, and children, Rebekah and John, joined Hardage onstage during the surprise recognition.
Plans for the future
In remarks to the Executive Board and ministry staff, Hardage expressed gratitude for his time with the BGCT and looks forward to the days ahead.
“I’m very excited about the future for Texas Baptists,” he said. “Thank you for giving me the privilege and honor of serving our Texas Baptists family. It’s been a real blessing.”
Hardage asked for prayer as he discerns what the Lord’s will is for his next step in ministry. He will stay on with Texas Baptists through the Fall of 2022 to aid with the transition.
BGCT officers have already begun the process of forming an executive director search committee. The committee is composed of seven board directors, eight at-large members, and board officers choose the committee chair. A formal announcement of the committee will be made in the coming weeks.
Information on opportunities to express appreciation and celebrate the ministry of the Hardages’ is forthcoming.