September 27, 2007 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 124 Number 34

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Wicker prays for ‘great awakening’

FBSC president to be nominated for second term


NAPLES (FBW)–Florida Baptist State Convention president Hayes Wicker believes “the time is short before Jesus returns” and is praying for a “great awakening” in “perilous times” marked by “hurricanes, Islamic extremism, liberal ideologies and rampant immorality.”

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In light of the challenges facing Florida Baptists, Wicker, pastor of First Baptist Church of Naples, outlined in an interview with Florida Baptist Witness an aggressive, full agenda for a second term as FBSC president, provided Florida Baptists return him to office at the upcoming annual meeting in Ocala.

“I am willing to serve a second term as president if the Convention so desires, but I am quite willing to support someone else who feels led.”

Dwayne Mercer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Oviedo and former FBSC president, confirmed to the Witness his intention to nominate Wicker for a second term. The Witness has not been notified of any other potential nominees.

Calling it an “honor” to nominate Wicker, Mercer told the Witness, “Hayes has done a great job in his first term,” noting his work with the Florida Baptist Convention’s David Burton to “increase evangelistic zeal among our pastors.” Mercer also commended Wicker’s “compassion in reaching out to all ministers across the state.”

Wicker, Mercer said, is a “man of integrity, which grows from his deep relationship with God. He continues to be an example to all of us in evangelism, leadership and missions giving. I can think of no one more qualified to lead Florida Baptists.”

Noting the size of the Florida Baptist State Convention, Wicker told the Witness that although his year as president has been busy, he was not able to “get around to the various entities in one year,” which a second term would permit.

“The Lord has used me to encourage many of our pastors who were hard hit by last summer’s hurricanes and to develop new dialogue and further networking among various like-minded pastors,” he said.

“I have been awed at the enormous breath and depth of our Baptist work,” Wicker added.

Wicker said that he is grateful for the unity of the state convention, “love for the Convention staff, for the concern for others who have suffered through the hurricanes, and for the widespread commitment to missions.”

Asked what concerns him about Florida Baptists, Wicker pointed to a need for “a greater ability to mobilize in times of crises. We must band together to be the ‘salt’ and ‘light’ on various moral and ethical issues. We need expository preaching, the building of Sunday School as our basic organization, and spiritual revival. I also believe we need a greater appreciation of the different approaches to worship and ministry which, though ‘out of the box,’ are biblical and Christ-honoring.”

Getting the necessary 611,000 petitions to put the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot is a task that is “doable, but daunting,” Wicker said. He urged pastors to not accept unfounded criticism that educating church members about such matters is “being political.” Instead, he said pastors and churches engaged in promoting the marriage amendment are “simply being good Christian citizens.”

Concerning his call for 100,000 baptisms among Florida Baptists and Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch’s one million baptisms nationwide, Wicker told the Witness, “I truly believe that baptizing record numbers must be the work of the Spirit in revival.” Citing Welch’s theme, he added, “‘Everyone can,’ but only ‘through Jesus Christ who strengthens us’ (Phil. 4:13).

“Dr. Welch and I both felt that the high goals would take two years. Good leadership always raises the bar and realizes that, ‘With God nothing is impossible.’”

Wicker said he looks forward to the “warm atmosphere of a dynamic, local church” as the setting for the FBSC annual meeting Nov. 14-15 at First Baptist Church of Ocala. Having former Nixon White House official and chairman of Prison Fellowship Charles Colson – “Christianity’s leading spokesman in America” – and “many of the nation’s greatest Bible teachers and preachers” will mark the annual meeting.

Asked his goals for a second term as FBSC president, Wicker cited:

• “Continuing to network with pastors and to encourage them to learn new ideas about outreach and ministry;”

• “I want to be a bridge between various generations of ministers and cultures around the state;”

• “I want to model biblical preaching,” and will release a sermon series on stewardship;

• Work closely with David Burton on offering area evangelism conferences;

• “I want to promote a greater awareness of disaster relief ministry and would like to see each church put together a ministry team to coordinate efforts” like his church’s “Conveyor of Hope”;

• Promote giving through the Cooperative Program;

• Get the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment on the November 2006 ballot;

• “Of course, I want to see us baptize 100,000 people.”

Wicker told the Witness, “Serving our wonderful Convention has been one of the greatest privileges and joys of my 35-year pastoral ministry.”