DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told church leaders he will retire Aug. 27 after 32 years as the church’s senior pastor.
A letter from Welch to members of the church was sent May 25 explaining that he will “officially” announce his retirement plans in the May 28 morning worship services. A copy of the letter was made available May 26 to the Florida Baptist Witness.
“The reason I have written you now is because I want you to hear from me before the press and newspapers begin to speculate on the matter. With the Southern Baptist Convention upon us, undoubtedly that would happen,” Welch wrote, noting that he would have preferred a “more personal” communication.
Welch told his congregation that he met with the church’s staff and leadership May 22 to inform them of his retirement plans.
“I had actually planned to wait a few weeks before making this official but Maudellen and I wanted you to hear this good news from us, personally,” he wrote. He plans to explain his retirement plans May 28 and “add some of the details” the following Sunday, June 4, when he intends to preach a message on “Your Legacy of Leadership.”
Welch continued, “I’ve always prayed God would make it clear to me when this time had come. He surely has and that period in our lives is now. It is the perfect opportunity for the church and us, and I could not imagine a better time.”
Welch said he and his wife, Maudellen, will remain in the church after retirement, including maintaining an office as he becomes pastor emeritus, and will offer assistance to David Cox, Welch’s co-pastor since 2003 who will become senior pastor.
“My commitment will be to always be far enough away from the church not to cause harm and close enough to Dr. Cox to be a help,” he added.
“Needless to say, these 32 years have been unspeakably happy, blessed and fulfilling. You are our dearest, valued and most trusted friends in all the world. We are thrilled beyond words that it appears the Lord will allow us to continue in ministry with Pastor David and you until we die. We want this retirement to be a happy, exciting and celebrative time in the church’s life and ours. See you Sunday.”
Welch signed off, “With You in His Certain Victory!!!”
A graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a decorated combat veteran, Welch is co-founder of the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy and the author of “You, The Warrior Leader.”
Joni Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.floridabaptistwitness.com).