DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Florida Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer John Sullivan has confirmed Florida pastor Bobby Welch has been asked to allow his name to be placed in nomination for the presidency at the 2004 Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis.
In an interview with Florida Baptist Witness, Sullivan confirmed Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla. had been asked to consider the nomination. Sullivan said he believes Welch “will make a great president for Southern Baptists.”
“In conversations with Bobby, I have encouraged him to do this and I support him,” Sullivan said. “He has been a great supporter in Florida of the Cooperative Program and in baptisms and the FAITH ministry. He has been supportive of all of the programs of the Florida Baptist Convention.
“I am delighted that he is going to run,” Sullivan continued. “He is uniquely qualified because he has been all over the convention doing the FAITH ministry. He’s been in small churches and large churches. He has broad-based exposure in ministry.”
Welch, a co-creator of the FAITH evangelism strategy, told Baptist Press that he was “flattered, humbled and encouraged” that anyone would consider nominating him as SBC president.
“I promised that I would pray about it and see what the Lord would have me do,” he told Baptist Press. “If the convention were to want me to do that, I would always try to do everything I could do to help the Kingdom’s cause.”
Welch told the Witness that he has been praying about the prospective nomination since before the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, and believes he is just one of several in the same position.
“I would not be surprised if there were others who were praying about it as well,” Welch said. “All these things seem premature to me.”
Welch noted, “12 months is a long time” and “a number of things could happen.”
Welch has been at First Baptist in Daytona since 1974. A Vietnam veteran and a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Welch and Doug Williams, retired minister of evangelism at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., created the FAITH evangelism strategy that has since grown into an international form of outreach. It is available through LifeWay Christian Resources. He frequently travels the country, sharing with pastors how they can implement the strategy in their church.
Welch’s election would make him the first Floridian to hold the denomination’s top elected post since Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla. was elected president in 1995 and again in 1996. He would be the first Floridian SBC officer since Ted Traylor was elected first vice president in 2000. Traylor, the pastor of Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla. is president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference for the 2004 Indianapolis meeting.
“If who I am and what I represent would be helpful to this convention to … win more people to the Lord and equip more people for the Gospel, then I’m open to that,” Welch said.
He added that “the safest position” for him to take is “to just pray about” the decision and “ask the Lord to lead me and show me what to do.”