JACKSONVILLE, FL — J. Thomas Green, who served as pastor of Georgia’s First Baptist Church of Buford from 1988-96, has been elected to lead the one million-member Florida Baptist State Convention as executive director-treasurer.
The current 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.
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.
The unanimous recommendation was brought by a nine-person search committee appointed at the time of Sullivan’s retirement announcement in September 2014.
Chairman Marvin Pittman of Bartow acknowledged that prior to the final interview with Green many of the committee members 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,” he added.
“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.”
Green is no stranger to Florida Baptists. He was elected as the Florida Baptist State Convention president in 2003 and 2004. He is completing a three-year term on the State Board, having previously served on it from 1999-2005. During his first tenure he was twice elected Board president in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
The Alabama native has served as senior pastor of First Brandon since April 1996. During his 19-year tenure, he led the church to double its membership to 5,700 from 2,723. Under his leadership the church has been a pacesetter among Florida Baptist churches in evangelism and baptisms, with 100 persons being led into baptismal waters each year.
The church’s commitment to global missions is reflected in their Cooperative Program giving, which averages 10% annually, in addition to contributions made to the Great Commission Giving emphasis. Church members participate on numerous mission projects overseas, nationally, and locally.
Prior to coming to Florida following his Buford pastorate, Green led Franklin Creek Baptist Church, Pascagoula, MS, 1985-88 and Chesbrough Baptist Church in Kentwood, LA, 1982-85.
He earned the doctor of theology and master of divinity degrees from New Orleans Seminary and the bachelor of arts degree from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, in 1980.
Married to his spouse, Karen, since Aug. 17, 1979, the couple has three grown children, John Green IV of Jacksonville; Philip Green and Matthew Green of Brandon. John Green, who serves as vice president of the State Board and as pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, and his wife, Katherine, have three children.
In Southern Baptist life, the newly elected executive served as a trustee for Southern Seminary from 2002-12, including as chairman from 2008-10 and vice chairman from 2003-06. In 2013 he was awarded the Alumni of the Year from New Orleans Seminary.
The nine-member EDT search committee was composed of Pittman, layperson, First Baptist Church, Bartow; Odany Augustin, pastor, Bethesda Christian Church, Pompano Beach; Wayne Briant, pastor, Southside Baptist Church, Sarasota; Stephen A. Davies, pastor Village Baptist Church, Destin; Otto Fernandez, pastor, Riverside Baptist Church, Miami; Elaine Nasworthy, layperson, Myrtle Lake Baptist Church, Land O’Lakes; Ted Traylor, pastor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola; Walter West, pastor, Anastasia Baptist Church, St. Augustine; and James Peoples, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention and pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Keystone Heights.
Additional reporting for this story was provided by Barbara Denman, director of Communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.