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Jackson joins SBC president ballot

UPDATED April 26 with additional information about CP giving.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–Jimmy Jackson, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention at June’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Jackson was the SBC’s first vice president for 2006-07 and has been senior pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., for 31 years.

“I’ve been encouraged to be a candidate for the Southern Baptist Convention president,” Jackson told The Alabama Baptist. “As we move forward as a state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention to reach the world for Jesus Christ, I would like to be a part of that.

“As I’ve prayed about the opportunity, I have a peace about it and have consented to be nominated.”

Jackson is the second nominee for SBC president, joining Bryant Wright, senior pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta.

Jackson, who has led the Alabama Baptist convention the past two years, also has served as first and second vice president of the SBC. He holds a divinity degree and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Old Testament from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a native of Greenwood, Miss., and a graduate of Mississippi College.

He has been an assistant parliamentarian at the SBC’s annual meetings for nearly 25 years. He is a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former member of the SBC Executive Committee.

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile for Whitesburg Baptist Church lists 163 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,556. The church gave $295,748, or 4.64 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $6,364,921. According to the ACP, the church also received $236,735 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $138,548 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. ACP data for 1978, the year Jackson became pastor, is not available; according to data from 1980, the church gave $55,625 through the Cooperative Program, or 4.57 percent, from $1,217,454 in tithes and offerings.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, described Jackson as “a statesman-like figure in Alabama Baptist life.”

“Jimmy has strong leadership qualities and has remained consistent through the challenges of more than 30 years as pastor of one church,” Lance added.

If elected, Jackson would be only the second SBC president from Alabama in the history of the SBC. Jonathan Haralson was the first Alabamian to fill that role (1889–98).

Under Jackson’s leadership, Whitesburg Baptist Church has grown from less than 3,000 members in 1978 to more than 7,000 today. Nearly 6,000 baptisms have taken place at the church since he became pastor, The Alabama Baptist reported.

But pinning down those numbers just by talking to Jackson is pretty difficult to do, several Whitesburg Baptist members told The Alabama Baptist, saying that he’s never let the numbers become more important than the people they represent.

“One thing about Brother Jimmy is that he’s never cared about the numbers,” said Karen Tidwell, his executive assistant for the past six years and a church member for more than 30 years. It’s always been about the people.

In fact, the names of the people who make up Whitesburg Baptist Church have been on Jackson’s lips every day of all his years there, with The Alabama Baptist recounting that one of his first requests as pastor was for a list of members so that he could pray for each one by name every week. He has continued that practice for 31 years, the paper reported, and he credits God’s response to those prayers as an underlying source of strength for the church.

Jackson and his wife Bobbi will celebrate their 50th anniversary this June. They have two grown children and six grandchildren.

The vote for SBC president is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, June 15, in the convention sessions at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
Reported by Jennifer Davis Rash, managing editor of The Alabama Baptist, and Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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