DULUTH — Georgia Baptists have stated their intentions for nominations of the four vice president positions to be voted upon at the Nov. 11-12 GBC annual meeting in Fayetteville.
Nominations and elections will take place during the Tuesday afternoon session at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville. Four vice presidents will be chosen in order of votes received to serve alongside the president to preside over next year’s annual meeting as well as ex officio members of the Executive Committee.
The Georgia Baptist Convention Constitution states in Article V, Section 2, that “If the president, for any reason, is unable to complete the term for which elected, then the first vice president shall immediately become president and shall serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. If the first vice president is unable to serve, the vice-president receiving the next highest number of votes shall fill the office.”
Future announcements regarding nominations can be made through The Christian Index, but are not required to do so. During the Tuesday afternoon scheduled segment of “Election of Officers,” messengers will be given the opportunity to present a nominee who must also be a registered messenger. While there is no limit to the number of nominees, only the top four receiving votes will move on to vice president positions.
Those candidates received so far, in alphabetical order, are the following:
Derek Berry, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hiram, will be nominated by First Baptist Villa Rica Pastor Kevin Williams.
“Raised in a Southern Baptist church, Derek surrendered his life to Christ at eight years old and answered the call to ministry as a young adult,” Williams informed The Index in an email. Berry, who volunteer coaches little league baseball and football, has five children with his wife of ten years, Megan.
Williams noted that Berry, a former youth minister among several churches in West Georgia, has led TBC to grow from 60 people to more than 250 since his arrival five years ago. That process included adding staff, changing worship styles, and remodeling the worship center as well as other areas of campus. Berry has also led Tabernacle to increase its Cooperative Program giving from .5% to 2.5% of undesignated receipts.
Williams added that the nominee is the chaplain for the Hiram High School football and baseball teams as well as the Hiram police department. Currently, Berry also is the moderator of West Metro Baptist Association and as chairman of the Credentials Committee for this year’s Georgia Baptist Convention.
Grady Caldwell, pastor of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin, will be nominated by Cumming First Baptist Pastor Bob Jolly.
Caldwell, Jolly told The Index, “is a pastor with a love for the Bride of Christ. He is the founding pastor and lead pastor of New Mercy Baptist Church. He planted this church and he has stayed the course to help them become a vibrant family of faith. Pastor Grady leads by example, serving his community as chaplain of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Department and the Griffin Police Department.”
Jolly called Kathleen Caldwell, the nominee’s wife of 50 years, a “faithful partner” who encourages her husband in church ministry.
Citing Caldwell’s denominational involvement, Jolly said, “He has served as chairman of the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, Committee on Nominations, CP Long-range study committee, Executive Committee, Membership Committee, and the Search Committee that brought us Thomas Hammond as our executive director. It was on that committee that I found out how much he truly loves Georgia Baptists.”
In 2018 New Mercy contributed 10.6% of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program, slightly ahead of its average of 10.26 over the last ten years.
Javier Chavez, pastor of Amistad Cristiana Church International in Gainesville, will be nominated by evangelist Bucky Kennedy.
“Pastor Chavez believes that evangelism is a mandate and not an option and he is leading his church … in passionately pursuing this mandate,” Kennedy said in a written statement to The Index.
Chavez planted and served as pastor of a church in his native Peru for more than 13 years before coming to the United States and planting Amistad Cristiana in 2014. A citizen of both countries, he met his wife, Noelia, while earning his master’s degree from Wheaton College in Chicago. Last year Chavez became the first Hispanic named to serve on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Committees.
In 2018 Amistad Cristiana committed 7.1% of its undesignated receipts toward the Cooperative Program.
Kennedy noted that Chavez continues to plant churches in Peru as well as Gainesville. Furthermore, Chavez began a school for pastors in Peru focused on leadership. Graduates have since gone on to plant 15 congregations across his native country.
Kennedy called Chavez “a very active leader among all Georgia Baptists in reaching the next generation,” citing his nomination as important to “having Georgia Baptists’ brightest and best in places of leadership, men who value evangelism and eternity.”
Josh Saefkow, senior pastor of Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, will be nominated by Rhys Stenner, senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
“Josh has been a great partner of New Hope and supporter of our New Hope at Northgate Campus launch,” said Stenner. He also called Saefkow “an active soul winner, gifted communicator, and a growing leader for our convention.”
In addition to his pastoral role, Stenner noted Saefkow’s role as a trustee for Brewton-Parker College, Georgia Baptist Public Affairs Committee chair of Order of Business, and his current position on the GBC Administration Committee.
“Josh is a young dynamic leader with a heart for the gospel and I believe he will serve us well,” said Stenner.
In 2018 Flat Creek contributed 7.4% of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program.
This story was updated at 9:32 a.m., Monday, Oct. 28.
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.