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John Avant announced as Pastors’ Conf. nominee

ST. LOUIS (BP) — John Avant, pastor of First Baptist Concord in Knoxville, Tenn., will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, according to an announcement by fellow Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines.

Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., stated in an April 27 announcement to Baptist Press: “I have known John Avant for over 30 years. We were in the Ph.D. program together at Southwestern Seminary in the 1980s. We both served as pastors of Southern Baptist churches in Texas at that same time. He is a man of Christ-like character. He has experienced personal revival as well as revival in his churches. He is a devoted husband and father, a Gospel preacher, a loving pastor, a soul winner and a servant leader.

“Having served as the president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference myself in 2005,” Gaines said, “I am fully aware of the responsibilities of that position, and I am confident that Dr. Avant will do a wonderful job serving all Southern Baptist pastors.”

A former vice president for evangelization at the North American Mission Board, Avant has pastored seven churches in Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas. Gaines said Avant “is known for the revival that broke out in Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, in 1995, where he was pastor, and spread to colleges and churches across America and beyond.”

Gaines added, “Since that time, Avant has been a passionate voice calling for a fresh move of spiritual awakening as the great hope of our convention and our nation.”

The Pastors’ Conference, which features messages from key leaders and inspirational music and worship, will be June 12-13 at America’s Center in St. Louis preceding the SBC’s June 14-15 annual meeting there.

Phoenix will be the site of next year’s Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting.

Avant — who has preached at more than 30 state Baptist convention evangelism conferences, pastors’ conferences and annual meetings — has pastored First Baptist Concord since 2013, leading the congregation in plans to launch a second campus in August.

First Baptist Concord is the lead partner church for NAMB’s Send Cleveland effort, committing resources to church planting in the city and recruiting other churches to join the campaign. The congregation supports nine total church plants, two of which began this year, Gaines said. Five global partnerships connect First Baptist Concord with the International Mission Board missionaries.

The church projects its total mission expenditures for 2016-17 to be approximately 23 percent of undesignated receipts, with some $42,000 supporting Southern Baptist missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program, Gaines said.

Avant earned an undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a master of divinity and doctor of philosophy from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

He and his wife Donna have three children and are expecting their third grandchild.

Avant said of a potential opportunity to lead the Pastors’ Conference, “When I was at NAMB, I had the opportunity to work with pastors all across America and Canada. God gave me a deep love for these godly men in every size church. I want to encourage them. I also want to ask God to spark within the heart of every pastor a fresh passion to believe God in an Ephesians 3:20 way — that He can and will ‘do exceedingly more than we can ask and imagine!’ We can turn around the trends in baptisms. We can see revival again. But the pastors are the key. This is my heart.”

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