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NEWS DIGEST: TGC names interim president; Phoenix Seminary president to pastor Kentucky church

Sandy Willson Named TGC Interim President

By Gospel Coalition Staff

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) — The Board has appointed Sandy Willson as interim president of The Gospel Coalition, and he will lead TGC while the Board launches a national search for the next TGC president. 

“I am deeply humbled to be asked to serve TGC in this interim period,” said Willson. “I have personally been blessed by the excellent resources and strong gospel convictions of TGC, and I speak for many churches and Christians globally in expressing gratitude that this ministry exists. I will do my best to steward the great work being done by TGC’s top-notch staff, making sure we carry on in our work to equip the church and promote the gospel for all of life.”

Sandy Willson is pastor emeritus of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., after serving as senior minister there for 22 years. Since then he has served two churches as interim senior pastor. He also pastored Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton, Tenn., and Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Lookout Mountain, Tenn. Prior to being appointed interim president, Willson served TGC as a Council member and Board member.

After three years serving as TGC president, Julius Kim will end his tenure in July. The TGC Board, Council, and staff are grateful for Kim’s faithful leadership of the ministry since January 2020. 

“Julius is a gifted preacher, a joy-filled brother, and a kind-hearted leader,” Board chairman Juan Sánchez said. “He began as president during a challenging time, mere months before the COVID-19 pandemic started, and he has led us to stronger financial health. We wish him the best and support him fully as he transitions to a new place of ministry.”

Willson will begin on May 1, while the Board begins a national search for the next president. Julius Kim will stay on staff in an advisory capacity during the transition, and Kim will still be a keynote speaker at TGC’s upcoming TGC23 conference in Indianapolis. 

During this transition, TGC remains committed to our mission of renewing faith in the gospel of Christ. Since our founding in 2005 by Don Carson and Tim Keller, TGC has championed gospel-centered ministry through conferences, resources, and training which has reached millions of people around the world. By God’s grace and in his providential leading, we will continue this work as long as he allows us.

Phoenix Seminary president to become pastor of FBC Paducah

By Chip Hutcheson/Kentucky Today

PADUCAH, Ky. (BP) — Brian Arnold, president of Phoenix Seminary for the past four years, is leaving that position to become pastor of Paducah First Baptist Church.

Arnold is no stranger to western Kentucky. His first pastorate was Smithland Baptist Church — located about 18 miles from Paducah. While Arnold is a native of Ohio, his wife, Lauren, is from Fulton County, Ky., and he says “western Kentucky feels as much home as anywhere else.”

Arnold will begin his role at Paducah FBC in early June.

“When I saw Larry Purcell was the interim there, I thought that if I ever left here (Phoenix), that’s where I would want to go,” Arnold said. During his time as pastor at Smithland, the family “came to love the city and people” of Paducah. “I have a love of historic First Baptist churches,” he added. Aware of challenges Paducah FBC has faced in the last two decades, Arnold expressed his optimism about revitalization. “It is a critical work that needs to be done.”

Arnold moved to Arizona in 2015 faced to serve as assistant professor of theology at Phoenix Seminary, then later became its academic dean. The seminary’s board of directors, after a nationwide search process, unanimously voted July 29, 2019 to appoint him as its fourth president.

His first major challenge as seminary president came eight months later when the global pandemic struck.

“Seminaries now are facing a lot of unique challenges,” he noted, saying that some people have chosen to forego formal theological education. Also, Phoenix Seminary is not a denominational seminary, which results in no subsidies from a denomination.

“The fun part has been building a team — getting to bring on some incredible faculty members have been exhilarating. A theological institution is built on strong faculty and staffing. It’s been great to see new people brought on.”

The seminary has prospered under Arnold’s leadership. Enrollment has increased by 75 percent during his presidency.

Prior to pastoring, Arnold worked as a paramedic for almost a decade. He earned his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2013. He has authored two books — Justification in the Second Century and Cyprian of Carthage: His Life and Impact, plus a numerous journal articles.

He and his wife, Lauren, have two children, Jameson, 11, and Natalie, 9.

“My family and I are thrilled to return to western Kentucky” Arnold said on FBC Paducah’s Facebook page. “I’ve always had a burden for pastoral ministry and for the people of Paducah in particular. Over the last few years, I’ve been burdened with the need churches have for strong leaders to do the work of teaching the Word, discipling the saints and evangelizing the lost. After serving for eight years in a training ground for church leaders, I’m excited to get back into the trenches of pastoral ministry and serve the saints in Paducah week in and week out.”

Read the full story here.

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  • BP Staff