LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - When Kentucky Baptists gathered for the annual meeting in 2019, all three candidates for state offices were unopposed and elected by acclamation. With the 2020 Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting scheduled for Nov. 10 in Owensboro, there’s a possibility there will be no contested races for the second straight year.
Three men have been announced as candidates for the offices of president, first and second vice presidents. Nominations can be made from the floor for any of those offices. This year, all messengers are asked to pre-register electronically, and attendance will be limited to pre-registered messengers. Each person will have a temperature check and be asked health-related questions. Attendees will be required to wear masks and social distancing will be in effect. There is a seating capacity limit with an overflow room available, if needed.
The announced candidates are:
--Wes Fowler, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mayfield, will be nominated for president. Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church and a past president of KBC, will nominate Fowler when messengers convene at Bellevue Baptist Church.
Fowler has pastored the church since 2011, during which time 115 people have been baptized and 320 additions have been made to the membership. During his ministry, giving to the Cooperative Program has increased almost 5 percent. The church also renovated most of its building without incurring debt.
About five years ago, a community outreach ministry was birthed at First Baptist Mayfield. An African-American student started attending with one of the church’s youth members. “We took what started organically and put a plan to it,” Fowler said. That resulted in scheduling a bus ministry to pick up students who “had nowhere to go on Wednesday nights. We started reaching out to a different part of the community than we typically had done. We probably have 20-25 youth and their families come and have supper with us on Wednesday nights. Prior to COVID, on Wednesday nights about 60 percent of the people are African American.
“It’s a pretty unique situation for First Baptist Mayfield. It’s not viewed as a unique thing anymore — it is what we do. It has become who we are.”
Fowler has led mission trips to Central America, South America and the Middle East, and is involved with mission work in Arizona to reach Native Americans. He also did a two-week educational study in Europe.
Fowler currently serves as KBC first vice president and previously served as the chairman of the search committee that presented Todd Gray as the KBC executive director-treasurer candidate in 2019. Previously he served as chairman of KBC’s Business and Finance Committee and vice chairman of the KBC’s Administrative Committee.
He and his wife, Tara, have three children — Brax, Bryley and Pierre.
--Josh Schmidt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Grayson, will be nominated for the position of first vice president. Kyle Noffsinger, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, will make the nomination.
Schmidt previously served as KBC second vice president in 2018-19.
He taught Sunday school at First Baptist Grayson for nine years, then was chosen as the Sunday school director. He was called as its pastor in January 2018, months after the death of his father, Paul, who had pastored the church since 2009.
When the pandemic resulted in churches temporarily canceling in-person services, Schmidt offered to assist any church in the Greenup Association with their efforts to show services online. He also offered to set up Facebook or YouTube accounts for members of those churches so they could watch online.
Schmidt demonstrated his evangelistic desire earlier this year in setting a goal of taking the gospel to 1,201 homes that are within a mile of his church. The church reached about 400 homes by March, but then had to delay its effort because of the virus. The drive resumed last month with 50 homes contacted, and 70 homes have been targeted for an Oct. 31 effort. “We’re still optimistic about reaching 1,201 homes, but it has been a journey,” Schmidt said.
When Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters gathered in his town for two weeks, Schmidt and two staff members — youth pastor Cory Jones and pastoral intern Darin Phillips — distributed cold bottles and talked with people on both sides. “For the most part, we were able to have great gospel conversations. We prayed with the people — it was a blessing.”
Schmidt and his wife, Lauren, have a son, Benjamin.
--David Scott, associate pastor and minister of music at Ormsby Heights Baptist Church in Louisville, will be nominated for the position of second vice president. Paxton Redd, pastor of Liberty Point Baptist Church in Cadiz, will make the nomination.
Scott has had three ministerial stints at Ormsby Heights that cover more than 18 years. After serving as minister of music at Southside Baptist Church in Princeton from 2002-16, he returned to Ormsby Heights and embraced a critical leadership role at the church when its pastor, the late Rick Bowden, had been diagnosed with cancer. Bowden died in August 2018, and Scott has guided the church not only in worship activities, but pastoral care such as hospital visits, home visits, counseling, funerals and on occasions filling the pulpit prior to Chad Fugitt becoming the church’s pastor in March.
“A good bit of my ministry has been in a transitional time for churches,” he said, noting that he has served in three churches which experienced transitions with their pastors. “That has not been my choice, but I believe God has used us in ministering to those churches.”
While at Southside, he was an active leader every year in the church’s most extensive evangelism effort, Judgment House, which typically presented the gospel to more than 2,000 visitors during a 10-day period.
Scott has more than 35 years of experience in ministry in Kentucky Baptist churches.
He and his wife, Karen, have two adult children — Emily and Ben.
On the day before the annual meeting, the Kentucky Baptist Pastors’ Conference will take place at Bellevue. An election of the 2022 president-elect will be held around 3:20 p.m. CST. Kyle Noffsinger will be nominated for that position by Darrell Crawford, pastor of Living Hope Baptist Church in Hopkinsville. John Lucas was elected last year to serve as president of the conference for 2021. There are no other announced candidates.