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Les Puryear to be SBC president nominee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Les Puryear, senior pastor of Lewisville (N.C.) Baptist Church, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the SBC’s June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Dwight McKissic, senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, announced May 12.

Puryear is among five announced nominees for the post, joining Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.; Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; William L. (Bill) Wagner, a former Southern Baptist missionary and seminary professor and current president of Olivet University International in San Francisco; and Avery Willis, a former Southern Baptist missionary and retired senior vice president of overseas operations for the International Mission Board.

Puryear, a native of North Carolina, has been pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church since 2005. Prior to his call into fulltime vocational ministry in 1996, Puryear served as a telecommunications executive for 25 years.

McKissic cited four reasons for nominating Puryear:

— “Les is a small church pastor and he represents the majority of the convention. It’s time for the Southern Baptist Convention to acknowledge that small churches are just as valuable in God’s kingdom as any other size church. Les will encourage the convention to provide specific support in the way of conferences, materials, etc. for the small church environment.

— “Les wants to continue the direction that Frank Page has started of getting people involved in the national convention who have not been involved in the past. This will include small and mid-size church leaders, and people from varying ethnic backgrounds.

— “Les holds to a Reformed view of salvation but it does not matter to him your theological position on soteriology — whether Arminian, Calvinism or anything in between. If you have a passion to reach people for Jesus Christ, then Les believes you should be welcome to be a part of the work of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s time for the local church to stop talking about evangelism and missions and start doing evangelism and missions.”

— “With his founding and organizing of the inaugural Small Church Leadership Conference in March 2008, Les has demonstrated his heart for pastors of small churches and his leadership abilities by conceptualizing and organizing a major conference which was joined in sponsorship by SBC entities such as LifeWay, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, Guidestone, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“I have known Les to be a person of integrity, vision, and compassion,” McKissic concluded. “He wants to work with all of the people in the Southern Baptist Convention, no matter what their differences are in regard to non-essential doctrinal beliefs, race or church size. It will be my privilege to nominate him as the next President of the SBC.”

Puryear is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and currently is working on a doctorate at Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Ind. He and his wife, the former Debbie Lewter of Wilmington, N.C., have two sons and two grandchildren.

Information from the 2007 Annual Church Profile for Lewisville Baptist Church, lists 11 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 195. The church received $4,751 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $1,500 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. According to the ACP, the church gave $20,331, or 5.9 percent, through the Cooperative Program in 2007 from total undesignated receipts of $343,795.
Compiled by Mark Kelly, an assistant editor at Baptist Press.

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