LAWRENCEBURG—Dan Summerlin, pastor at Lone Oak First Baptist Church of Paducah, will be nominated as Kentucky Baptist Convention president when the KBC annual meeting convenes Nov. 13 in Lexington.
Summerlin, a former KBC first vice president, will be nominated by Bob Ehr, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lawrenceburg.Summerlin is the first announced candidate for the post.“These are certainly significant days in the life of our convention with a lot of changes going on,” Ehr said, “and I think Dan could help navigate us through those” changes.
Ehr said he has known Summerlin from their days as pastors in Alabama. Ehr succeeded Summerlin as pastor of Big Sandy Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the mid-1990s.
“He’s a man of a great cooperative spirit,” Ehr said of Summerlin. “He really does relate well to all people, regardless of age or the size of one’s church.”
With the KBC in transition, Summerlin said, as president, he could provide a well-informed voice for pastors who have questions about what’s going on.
Summerlin was part of the 15-member Kentucky Great Commission Task Force that recommended moving the KBC to a 50/50 allocation of Cooperative Program funds between Kentucky and Southern Baptist missions causes by 2020. KBC messengers voted in 2010 to adopt the group’s report, establishing a renewed vision for the convention and its 2,400-plus churches.
Much of the task force’s report emphasized the need for Kentucky Baptists to focus on the Great Commission, Christ’s command to take the gospel to all the world. Summerlin said that emphasis must remain the convention’s No. 1 priority.
“The Great Commission will help us to begin focusing on missions, focusing on evangelism, reaching out in our communities, helping churches to grow (and) helping churches in baptism and discipleship,” he noted.
Much of that mirrors the reorganized KBC Mission Board staff structure which is designed to place more emphasis on evangelism, church planting, revitalizing congregations and mobilizing Kentucky Baptists for missions.
Summerlin said he wants Kentucky Baptists to be “light and salt” in the world and for others to know “what we stand for more than what we’re against.”
The Paducah pastor said he believes that can be achieved in the Bluegrass, a region with a high volume of leaders. “I’ve served in other state conventions, but the number of pure leaders is very high here,” he noted. “Every voice is a strong voice.”
One of the challenges Kentucky Baptists do face, though, is a “generational challenge,” Summerlin said.
In the ministry now for more than 30 years, Summerlin said he stays connected to younger pastors through mentor groups. But his extensive experience in the pulpit allows him to understand both sides of the generation gap, he pointed out.
“I think I understand a little of both sides in what they want and what they see in the future, and maybe I can help try to translate for each one what the other group is trying to say,” he noted.
If elected in November, Summerlin would become the first president to preside over an annual meeting at his home church since before 1961, when the convention changed its name from the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky to the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The 2013 KBC annual meeting is to be held at Lone Oak First Baptist Church of Paducah.
Summerlin is less than a month shy of marking 10 years as the pastor at Lone Oak First Baptist. An Alabama native, he came to the church in 2002 from University Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala. He also has served in Mississippi.
Summerlin was elected first vice president at the 2010 KBC annual meeting, at which he also preached the convention sermon. He currently serves as a Western Recorder trustee.
On the Southern Baptist Convention level, Summerlin is a member of the SBC Executive Committee and has served on both the Committee on Committees and the Tellers Committee at past SBC annual meetings.
A graduate of the University of Alabama, Summerlin holds both a master’s degree and doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
According to the 2011 Annual Church Profile report, Lone Oak First Baptist Church of Paducah gave $291,933 (9.54 percent of its undesignated receipts) to the Cooperative Program, ranking No. 3 among all KBC churches in total CP gifts. The church also reported 55 baptisms. (WR)