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Thomas Green to lead Florida Baptist Convention

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP) — J. Thomas Green has been elected to lead the 1-million-member Florida Baptist State Convention as executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Green, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, was tapped by the State Board of Missions during its May 29 meeting at Lake Yale Conference Center in Leesburg. He will assume his new role effective June 8.

In remarks to the board, Green pledged that by November he will present an annual budget for 2016 that will send 51 percent of Cooperative Program gifts from Florida Baptist churches to the Southern Baptist Convention and 49 percent to Florida Baptist missions and ministries.

“By sending more than we are keeping, I believe God will honor and bless that as He did the fishes and the loaves,” Green said.

As the 10th executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, Green, 57, succeeds John Sullivan who retired Feb. 28 after serving in that role from 1989 to 2015, the longest tenure in Florida Baptist history.

Green was unanimously recommended by a nine-person search committee appointed at the time of Sullivan’s retirement announcement last September.

Chairman Marvin Pittman acknowledged that prior to the final interview with Green many on the committee were undecided on the candidate. However, “during the two hours spent with Dr. Green and his wife Karen there was a comfortable peace that invaded the room and every heart therein. The deliberation by the committee was short and bathed in unity; the vote was unanimous,” said Pittman, a layman from First Baptist Church in Bartow.

“We firmly believe that although we had some outstanding candidates with great credentials, the Father has led us to one that by His grace, will lead Florida Baptists into a new era of cooperation and unity to achieve the Great Commission in Florida and beyond,” Pittman said.

Green was elected as the Florida Baptist State Convention president in 2003 and 2004 and is completing a three-year term on the State Board of Missions, having previously served on it from 1999-2005. During his first tenure he was twice elected board president, for 2000-2001 and 2001-2002.

In a statement of acceptance, Green said, “It is with a deep sense of humility that I accept the position of the Executive Director Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. I appreciate the unified decision of the Search Team and the State Board of Missions in this appointment. Karen and I are extremely excited about the privilege to serve the churches of the Florida Baptist Convention in this capacity. I look forward to sharing and implementing the vision God has placed on my heart for the future of our churches in Florida. Thank you for the trust that you have placed in my leadership and I fully commit to seek and follow the will of God. We have exciting days of Kingdom ministry ahead of us as a convention of churches. May God unify us to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” A video excerpt of Green’s comments to the board is posted at https://vimeo.com/129371711.

Green has served as senior pastor of First Baptist in Brandon since April 1996. During his 19-year tenure, he led the church to double its membership to 5,700 from 2,723. The church has been a pacesetter among Florida Baptist churches in evangelism and baptisms, with some 100 baptisms each year.

The church’s commitment to global missions is reflected in their Cooperative Program giving which averages 10 percent annually, in addition to contributions made to Great Commission Giving causes. Church members participate on numerous mission projects overseas, nationally and locally.

In Southern Baptist life, Green was a trustee of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., from 2002-2012, serving as chairman from 2008-2010 and vice chairman from 2003-2006. In 2013 he was awarded the Alumni of the Year from New Orleans Seminary.

Prior to coming to Florida, Green was pastor of First Baptist Church in Buford, Ga., 1988-1996; Franklin Creek Baptist Church, Pascagoula, Miss., 1985-1988; and Chesbrough Baptist Church in Kentwood, La., 1982-1985.

An Alabama native, Green holds doctor of theology and master of divinity degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

He and his wife have three grown children, John Green IV of Jacksonville and Philip Green and Matthew Green of Brandon. John Green IV, who serves as vice president of the State Board of Missions and pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, and his wife Katherine have three children. He abstained from the board’s vote on his father.

In addition to Pittman, layperson, members of the search committee were James Peoples, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights; Ted Traylor, pastor, Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Odany Augustin, pastor, Bethesda Christian Church in Pompano Beach; Wayne Briant, pastor, Southside Baptist Church in Sarasota; Stephen A. Davies, pastor, Village Baptist Church in Destin; Otto Fernandez, pastor, Riverside Baptist Church, Miami; Elaine Nasworthy, layperson, Myrtle Lake Baptist Church, Land O’Lakes; and Walter West, pastor, Anastasia Baptist Church, St. Augustine.

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  • Barbara Denman/Florida Baptist Convention