SNELLVILLE, Ga. — Fayetteville pastor Josh Saefkow will serve a second one-year term as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, the state’s largest religious group with some 1.4 million members.
Saefkow, with his winsome personality and unwavering work ethic that had him crisscrossing the state for preaching engagements and meetings throughout his first term, had no opposition and was elected by acclamation.
"I am so grateful," he told messengers gathered at the Church on Main in Snellville on Tuesday afternoon. "Thank you for the joy, honor and privilege."
Saefkow said his role as president has given him “a front seat to see all that the Lord is doing in Georgia.”
“I have loved seeing how God is moving all over our state, and I have loved being with our pastors, our associational missionaries, our Mission Board staff,” he told The Christian Index after deciding to seek a second term. "It has been a joy. I just want to continue to focus on the mission that we would continue to take the gospel into our communities and cities and trust the Lord to bring a harvest.”
Longtime bi-vocational pastor Randall Culpepper who led Taylor Mills Baptist Church in Reynolds while serving in the U.S. Air Force, nominated Saefkow for his second term. Culpepper is also Saefkow’s father-in-law and a member of his church.
“Josh is a phenomenal pastor to our congregation at Flat Creek, a God-honoring son-in-law to and Cindy and I, a faithful husband to our daughter, a fearless father to two of our beautiful granddaughters, an undaunted and devoted uncle to all of his nieces and nephews, a proud and happy owner of both Liberty, his loving Springer Spaniel, and Little Joe, his faithful steed, and lastly a warm friend to all he meets,” Culpepper said in announcing he planned to nominate his son-in-law for a second term. “He is a faithful preacher of the whole counsel of our Lord and unafraid in offering that counsel graciously to those that our Lord has put under his care. I can think of no one better to lead our convention in the coming year, and may our Lord raise up a host of young men and women who emulate his Christ-like spirit within our churches across Georgia.”
Saefkow, 39, has served in numerous roles in the Georgia Baptist Convention. He is a former vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and former chairman of the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee. He also has service on the Administration Committee and the Public Affairs Committee.
Saefkow holds a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees from Liberty University as well as a doctorate from Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Saefkow’s church gives 10 percent of all undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, the primary means through which Southern Baptist congregations support missionaries and ministries in their home states, their nations and around the world.
Messengers also elected Stephen Dervan, pastor of Oak Hill Church in Williamson, as first vice president and Javier Lopez, Hispanic pastor at First Baptist Church in Douglasville, as second vice president.
Jim Perdue, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins, nominated Dervan, saying he has done “a great work” at Oak Hill where he has led the congregation to embrace the Cooperative Program, increasing giving from less than 1 % to 6% over the past six years “on the way to 10%.”
Perdue said under Dervan’s leadership, Oak Hill has also planted four churches in New York City. Perdue also pointed out that Dervan had appeared in the move Fireproof.
Rafael Valter, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Agape in Stone Mountain, nominated Lopez, telling messengers he has been a pastor and church planter for 25 years and that he has baptized 25 people in the past 12 months.
“I think he will make a great vice president not only because he’s a church planter, not only because he’s a baptizer, but he has a servant's heart,” Valter said.
Valter said Lopez and his church prepared and served more than 200 meals on Monday for a Hispanic preaching conference held in conjunction with the annual meeting.
Messengers voted to change the Georgia Baptist Convention's governing documents before the election, a move that reduced the number of vice presidents from four to two.