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Spencer seeks to ‘share all the victories’ and ‘look forward to our bright future’ in SBC

NASHVILLE (BP) – Dan Spencer is more than a pastor’s kid; he’s an evangelist’s kid. The pastor from East Tennessee has deep roots in the local church that have grown through generations.

Spencer, 56, is one of the known candidates to be nominated for SBC president at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting.

He vividly remembers one night when he was 16 years old and the weight of conviction landed on him. “I went in my parent’s bedroom and woke them up,” he said.

His father shared the Gospel with him and his mother prayed for him, as they had done many times before.

“I heard as if for the first time and responded in faith,” Spencer told BP, “It’s the first time really that I knew what it meant to repent of my sins and place my faith in Jesus.”

A few years later while on a high school mission choir tour in Toronto, Canada, he said God called him to ministry.

“I think I had given the Lord everything I knew how to give Him at that point,” Spencer said, “except my future plans.”

It wasn’t long before the Lord began opening doors for ministry opportunities.

Right out of college, he and wife Tresa served with the Home Mission Board’s (now North American Mission Board) US-2 program that allowed them to serve with the Missouri Baptist Convention’s evangelism department for two years.

“It was two of the most fun years of our ministry,” he said. “We enjoyed traveling the state leading worship, telling people how to share their faith, and God really used that to shape us.”

Over the years, Spencer has served churches in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

A legacy in CP partnership

Not only does Spencer have deep roots in the local church, his great-great uncle is M.E. Dodd who chaired the SBC’s Future Program Commission in 1925, the group that gained approval of the Cooperative Program (CP) by messengers at that year’s SBC Annual Meeting in Memphis, Tenn.

Spencer remembers visiting Dodd’s home as a child and hearing stories about his work among Southern Baptists.

When he thinks about CP, he remembers those days serving with the Home Mission Board.

“The first time I ever had a steady income was when I was a US-2 missionary, along with my wife,” he said. “It was surreal being able to take that income, tithe it to a church that was letting us live in their parsonage that would send money onto the Cooperative Program and then they would send me out to promote the Cooperative Program.”

FBC Sevierville, where Spencer has served since 2011, ranked third in 2023 CP giving among Tennessee Baptist churches, according to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

Spencer reflected on something he heard recently in his home church from Kids’ Pastor Keith Allmon as the offering was being received, “You know, here at our church, about nine cents out of every dollar that you give is going to be sent on to be pooled with the resources of thousands of other churches who are like-minded and have the same kind of heart that we do for reaching people and it’s going to end up doing all kinds of work all around the world.

“So, when you give, just know that you’re making a difference in the lives of places whose names you can’t even pronounce, and people that you will never meet this side of heaven whose lives will be changed,” Allmon told the congregation.

Lead toward ‘our bright future together’

Spencer sees the most important roles of the SBC president as presiding over the annual meeting and appointing the members of the Committee on Committees and the Committee on Resolutions.

On committee selections, Spencer said, if elected, “I would want to seek input from grassroots Southern Baptist associational leaders, state convention staff and find those people who have demonstrated commitment to Southern Baptist causes, to Great Commission work, who are involved in Cooperative Program giving and then Southern Baptists who understand our polity and who are committed to our cooperative mission.”

As for presiding over the annual meeting, Spencer said he could draw from his experience as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 2009-2011 and as director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board from 2015-2019.

He said he would lead with “fairness, being even handed … (and) share all the victories that we can for what the Lord’s done in the past and build on the best of our past and meet the needs here in the present and look forward to our bright future together.”

In written comments to Baptist Press, Spencer spoke about the need to continue the work of responding to sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.

“Sexual abuse is an unthinkable evil no matter the age or gender of the victim. My heart breaks for individuals and families who have suffered. I can get behind anything that makes our churches safer, especially for children,” he said.

“The way SBC messengers have responded to the SATF and the ARITF shows that as a Convention, we want to do everything we can to help churches with prevention. If elected, I look forward to working with Dr. Iorg and others to continue helping our churches in this area.”

As for the call for more transparency in the SBC, he wrote, “We have a system in place that provides transparency to the trustees of our entities, and I trust that system.

“I acknowledge that situations have arisen that have caused questions, but as long as trustees are getting the information they need from our entity administrators, I am content.”

Spencer believes there may be a better question to ask – “Is there a way to make sure our trustees have everything disclosed to them so that there is transparency within our various boards?”

When it comes to the so-called Law Amendment, Spencer said in the Baptist Press This Week interview, “I have no issue with the theology of the Law Amendment. I think [it’s] a governance issue, and I think the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 has sufficiently spoken to that.”

However, he said if messengers choose to pass the amendment, “it wouldn’t break my heart if it passed.” He hopes the tone of the convention will be “thoughtful” when messengers discuss and vote on the amendment.

Celebrating SBC milestones in 2025

Spencer is looking forward to the 2025 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas when Southern Baptists will celebrate the 100th anniversary of both the Cooperative Program and the Baptist Faith and Message.

“I’d love to see all of our churches increase their Cooperative Program giving for the occasion when we meet together in Dallas in 2025,” he said.

Above all, he would hope to lead Southern Baptists to focus on the Great Commission, “I think we have to do the same thing as … those who’ve gone before us to make sure that we are focused together on the right things so that we can continue to make a difference until Jesus comes.”

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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