Tennessee pastor Dan Spencer to be nominated for SBC president


SEYMOUR, Tenn. — Dan Spencer, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Sevierville, has become the sixth nominee for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention at the 2024 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Chris Kendall, senior pastor of Oak City Baptist Church, Seymour, informed the Baptist and Reflector on April 11 of his intention to nominate Spencer, who has been the pastor at First Baptist since 2011.

Kendall said he is a Southern Baptist by choice and he loves the Southern Baptist Convention for two primary reasons — the autonomy of the local church and the spirit of cooperation.

“Over the past several years, our Southern Baptist network has been marked by controversy and contention. I believe that Dan Spencer is the unifier that would benefit our collective to refocus on what matters most. It’s the people that God has put before us to reach with the gospel and make disciples,” he said.

“His love for God and people has positioned him to make the necessary biblical decisions (as a leader) when it comes to faith and practice. … Dan is competent to lead at the denominational level. He also has what’s most essential — the character to back it up.”

Spencer has a strong Southern Baptist heritage. He is the great-great-nephew of M.E. Dodd, “the father of the Cooperative Program” and the great-great-grandson of George Martin Savage, who was president of Union University and Dodd’s father-in-law.

Spencer’s father, Jerry Spencer, has been a Southern Baptist evangelist and pastor since 1957.

Spencer was called to ministry in 1986 while on a youth choir tour/mission trip to Toronto, Canada, from his home church of Brownsville Baptist Church in Brownsville.

The Sevierville pastor has embraced the denomination of his ancestors. He preached at the SBC Pastor’s Conference in 2001 and was a member of the SBC Committee on Committees in 2005. Spencer served as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 2009-11 and served as a director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board from 2015-19.

During his tenure at First Baptist, Spencer has led the church to continue being one of the leading churches in Tennessee each year in number of baptisms and giving through the Cooperative Program. 

In 2023, First Baptist gave $542,915 through the Cooperative Program, or 9.09 percent of its undesignated gifts. Since 2019, First Baptist has given more than a half million dollars annually through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, including $880,960 in 2022 and $659,425 in 2023.

Kendall observed that Spencer has the chemistry and ability to “rally the diverse collective of churches and pastors together to master and major on the main thing — the Great Commission.”

He added that it has been “refreshing to see a man with a large platform who can leverage it with integrity while having the intensity to reach neighbors and the nations with the gospel.

Kendall added that he believed Spencer would complement the work of Jeff Iorg, the new president/CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. “He would be the right fit for Dr. Iorg in this inaugural annual meeting for our new EC president.”

Spencer joins another Tennessee pastor, Jared Moore of Cumberland Homesteads Baptist Church, Crossville, as nominees, along with Bruce Frank, pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church, Asheville, N.C.; Clint Pressley, Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte; Mike Keahbone, First Baptist Church, Lawton, Okla.; and David Allen, professor and dean at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn.

The 2024 SBC annual meeting is June 11-12 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.


This story first appeared in the Baptist and Reflector.