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Jim Harding leaving Utah-Idaho post for pastorate in Salt Lake City area

DRAPER, Utah (BP)–Jim Harding, executive director of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, is leaving the post to become pastor of First Baptist Church, West Valley City, Utah.

Harding, 52, has led the two-state convention since 1995, also serving as editor of the state paper, The Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Witness. He was the convention’s director of religious education from 1990-95.

Harding played a key role in coordinating the involvement of Utah-Idaho Baptists in the June 1998 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Salt Lake City.

He was pastor of Layton Hills Baptist Church, Layton, Utah, from 1984-90; Elm Street Baptist Church, Murphysboro, Ill., 1982-84; and Temple Baptist Church, Poplar Bluff, Mo., 1977-82.

First Baptist Church, West Valley City, is a 350-member congregation in the Salt Lake City area founded 41 years ago.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said of Harding’s announcement, “I am not surprised Jim has resigned to once again pastor a local church. In meeting and getting to know him, I was deeply impressed by his devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and his love for people. Without doubt, he has a compassionate pastor’s heart and a longing to see others come to Christ.

“He has done a wonderful job leading the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman continued. “The people of that convention have every reason to be thankful that God led Jim to serve him and them for the last 10 years. He is one of God’s choice servants. I am grateful to know him as a friend and will be praying for him and the convention during these coming days of transition.”

Harding will leave his Utah-Idaho post, effective Oct. 1. The convention’s executive board likely will begin the process of seeking his successor during their Sept. 7-8 meeting at First Baptist Church of West Valley City.

In a letter to the executive board, Harding said it has been a “privilege and honor to serve as a member of the Utah-Idaho SBC state staff.” He voiced appreciation to the board “for your support and encouragement as we have worked together with God in growing the Kingdom here” and confidence “that the Board will call a great person to lead the staff forward and upward in the days ahead.”

A U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, the Missouri native earned his bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College, Liberty, Mo., in 1969; a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1976; and a doctor of ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif., in 1988.

Harding in his wife, Jan, have three grown children, Christy, Scott and Holly, all of whom live in the Salt Lake City area, and two grandchildren.