Ken Hall to be nominated for
BGCT presidency at Lubbock convention
By Marv Knox
DALLAS–Ken Hall, president of Buckner Baptist Benevolences, will be nominated for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas when it meets next fall.
Jim Denison, Hall's pastor at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, announced he will make the nomination when the BGCT convenes in Lubbock Nov. 10-11.
“I am convinced that Dr. Hall is God's man to lead Texas Baptists in the coming year and that the Lord will use him to guide us to our greatest potential for the kingdom,” Denison said.
“Under his leadership, Buckner has become the premiere global missions organization in Baptist life, connecting churches and ministries across the state to missions opportunities around the world,” Denison added. “He will guide us to the global significance Texas Baptists wish to embrace in this new century.”
Buckner, a ministry of the BGCT, will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2004. It offers child and family services in 22 communities and operates five retirement facilities across the state. It also provides support services for domestic and international adoptions and partners with groups to minister to orphans overseas.
Hall has been Buckner's president for 10 years, following a career as pastor of Texas Baptist churches.
Hall's leadership reflects the breadth of that experience, Denison noted.
“He has pastored some of the greatest churches in Texas Baptist life,” he said. “He knows the institutional work of Texas Baptists intimately. His leadership at Buckner has embraced the ethnic diversity and possibilities of our state. He is known and respected by Baptists across our convention. He will articulate our vision with clarity and motivate and energize our people to its fulfillment.”
Hall would be willing to serve as president because “I genuinely love the BGCT,” he said. “In this era of denominational change, the BGCT is the most functional denominational system. I believe in the BGCT, and I'm committed to it and its institutions and auxiliary ministries.”
He also agreed to be nominated because fellow pastors and others whom he respects and loves asked him to do it, he added.
In addition to Denison, some of those encouragers included longtime colleagues such as Pete Freeman, pastor of First Baptist Church in The Woodlands, and Rodney McGlothlin, pastor of First Baptist Church in College Station.
Hall is the right candidate at the right time because of his vision, Freeman said.
“Ken would bring a fresh and different perspective, being the head of a major Baptist institution,” he explained. “His previous pastoral and denominational experience would be invaluable to us.
“Ken knows and understands who we are as Texas Baptists and has a good perspective for where we ought to be in the future in relation to missions and evangelism. He understands where Texas Baptists need to be if we're going to be relevant.”
McGlothlin echoed that theme.
“As far as I'm concerned, Ken has been doing missions all along–doing it and not talking about it, not politicizing it” he said. “Buckner has led the way in facilitating ways for Texas Baptist churches to partner with other churches, with associations, state conventions and anyone else who's willing to cooperate. We have to find ways to connect and partner with others.
“Baptists and missions ought to be like a river flowing to the ocean–we'll find a way to get there, find a way to do it.”
Texas Baptist history offers ample precedent for a denominational agency president to serve simultaneously as state convention president.
Buckner Baptist Benevolences' founder and first president, R.C. Buckner, led the BGCT for 19 years. Three Baylor University presidents, Rufus Burleson, Samuel Palmer Brooks and Abner McCall, held the BGCT post while leading the convention's largest university. And two presidents of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lee Scarborough and E.D. Head, also accomplished the feat. Several other BGCT presidents either previously served as agency leaders or later took the helm of institutions.
Although 38 years have passed since McCall last held dual presidencies, Hall acknowledged the time may be right again.
“In an era when we're trying to redefine ourselves as a state convention to our constituency, in many ways our institutions are our churches' greatest denominational treasures,” he explained. “So, if I can encourage churches and institutions to support the BGCT, then, hopefully, I can give some credibility at this point.”
Although Hall noted he's not running for office and doesn't have a campaign platform, he said he intends to support the new world missions network being founded by the BGCT. While not touted as a missionary-sending organization, the new network is being described as a mechanism for offering Texas Baptists and their churches unique opportunities for conducting mission work worldwide.
“This is where we are,” Hall said of the network, which has not yet been named or staffed. “We need to be talking about collaborative partnerships with the BGCT rather than focusing on what used to be. It is a new day.”
The change in doing missions has been prompted in part by controversy with the Southern Baptist Convention, whose two missions agencies have drawn disfavor with some Texas Baptists, Hall acknowledged. But part of the reason for the change is a “cultural shift” that has led many churches to desire more hands-on missions participation, he added.
“The BGCT is out front on this,” he said. “It's not about control, but about cooperation, appreciation and collaboration.”
One hallmark of a Hall administration would be encouragement, he predicted.
“We need to be affirming each other,” he said. “That's my spirit, to be an affirmer. … I want to be a consensus builder and inclusive in the way we do things.
“I don't have an agenda other than listening to the people, defending who we are and getting people on board. … I'd love to make it possible for a lot of our people who felt on the outside to be on the inside.”
Pointing to what he perceives to be a change in the BGCT's response to the conflict that has divided Southern Baptists for more than two decades, Hall said: “I think, honestly, we've seen a shift in our leadership–toward who we are rather than what we're against. I want to keep that process going.”
One of Hall's presidential goals would be “to communicate a spirit of inclusiveness, of defining for the churches in our family our strengths,” he said. “The leadership of our convention believes all people deserve to be treated with dignity and honor and to hear the good news of Christ. That's who we are. … We're still preaching the uncompromised truth that God loves all people.”
Hall also would work to help Texas Baptists understand the strength of the BGCT. “We are an unbelievably strong denomination. Sometimes our people perceive us as being weak and (they) retreat, when that's absolutely false.
One of the key issues facing Texas Baptists is “redefining ourselves to our churches as a viable, necessary part of the kingdom advance,” Hall said.
“The biggest problem we have right now is that churches and individuals think the denomination is obsolete and not necessary. Rather than being unnecessary, the whole issue of collaborative ministry between churches and faith-based programs and ministries is the best example of what kingdom advance is,” he explained. “And advancing God's kingdom on earth is the mission of believers.”
Prior to becoming Buckner's president in 1994, Hall was pastor of First Baptist Church in Longview. Previous pastorates included Crestview Baptist Church in Midland, Eastwood Baptist Church in Gatesville and Riverside Baptist Church in Stephenville.
He has been a director of the Baptist Standard, chairman of the BGCT Committee on Committees, and member of the BGCT Executive Board and Resolutions Committee. He is a deacon at Park Cities Baptist Church.
He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, earned master's and doctor's degrees from Southwestern Seminary, and is an honorary alumnus of Truett Seminary.
He and his wife, Linda, have two adult children.