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Tenn. evangelist Jerry Drace to be 2nd VP nominee

DALLAS (BP) — Tennessee evangelist and pastor Jerry Drace will be nominated for second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Union University professor Ernest Easley announced today (May 16).

A vocational evangelist for more than 40 years, Drace has preached in approximately 1,000 Southern Baptist churches and conducted 300 of his signature Hope of the Home conferences in the U.S. and Great Britain. For the past eight years, he has served as bivocational pastor at Friendship (Tenn.) Baptist Church, the west Tennessee congregation his father once pastored and where Drace came to faith in Christ.

Drace is a former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.

“Electing a longtime vocational evangelist/bivocational pastor as an officer of our convention will be another step toward getting our focus back on reaching the lost for Christ,” said Easley, professor of evangelism at Union. He added that Drace “has led his church to have a focus on getting the Gospel to the world.”

The nomination will occur during the SBC’s June 12-13 annual meeting in Dallas.

Easley, a former chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, said Drace’s nomination is timely, given the “renewed emphasis on evangelism across the Southern Baptist Convention.”

In March, the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association — which Drace founded in 1975 — sponsored the Evangelists’ Summit ’18 in Jackson, Tenn., according to SBC LIFE, the journal of the SBC Executive Committee. At the summit, 15 evangelists gathered to discuss how they can continue to help pastors amid declining use of vocational evangelists by churches.

Friendship told Baptist Press it gave 18 percent of its undesignated receipts last year in Great Commission Giving, including 9 percent through the Cooperative Program. Giving data from the SBC’s Annual Church Profile and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board varies slightly from that CP total, but such variance generally stems from a variety of factors such as different fiscal years, the timing of CP gifts sent to the state convention and differing accounting methods.

Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified program of funding state- and SBC-level ministries, as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.

Friendship baptized approximately a dozen people last year, with an average worship attendance of 85-100, the church told BP.

Drace, the author of two books, has conducted numerous international crusades and preached at the 1984 SBC Pastors’ Conference.

He earned a bachelor of science degree from Union, a master of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary of the SBC).

He and his wife Becky have two adult children.

Drace is the second announced nominee for second vice president. Oklahoma pastor Felix Cabrera’s nomination was announced in March. Announced presidential nominees are North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear and former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Ken Hemphill. Announced first vice presidential nominees are California pastor A.B. Vines and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention staff member Mike Gonzales.