Florence—Severns Valley Baptist Church Pastor Bill Langley is the only announced candidate for the presidency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention at this year’s annual meeting in Florence Nov. 15.
He will be nominated by Dan Summerlin, a past KBC president and pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah.
Langley, who served as president of the Kentucky Baptist Pastors’ Conference this year, received his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky, and earned a master’s of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, and a doctorate in biblical studies from Louisiana Baptist University.
During Langley’s seven years at Severns Valley, more than 500 new believers have been baptized. The Elizabethtown congregation consistently has been one of the state’s top Cooperative Program contributors, giving more than $2.1 million through the Cooperative Program since Langley became pastor, and more than $11.6 million dating back to 1928.
WR: What influence on the Kentucky Baptist Convention do you pray to have during your tenure as president? What will be your primary goals and hopes for the coming year?
Langley: Having pastored for more than 30 years, I have seen and experienced much. As so many others, I am incredibly burdened by what I observe on the national landscape. Tides are turning, momentum is shifting, and it seems as though our nation is, literally, sprinting away from God. The challenges for pastors and churches, today, are many, and they are becoming increasingly intense. However, where there are great challenges, there are also great opportunities! “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!” (John 1:5 ESV)
If elected as president of the KBC, my goal and No. 1 priority would be to do all I could to encourage pastors and church leaders to take advantage of every opportunity in evangelism and discipleship. This is not a time to “hold the fort.” This is a time to advance and enlarge the kingdom!
WR: As pastor of one of the leading churches in Cooperative Program giving, in what ways do you envision encouraging Kentucky Baptists in fulfilling the Great Commission and strengthening support of the Cooperative Program?
Langley: I am a strong advocate of the Cooperative Program for a very pragmatic reason: We can do much more together than we can do by ourselves. In my opinion, the challenge we face is in doing a better job of sharing the wonderful accounts of people who are being reached as a direct result of missions and missions giving through the KBC. The people in our churches want to be a part of these incredible success stories. So, let’s do all we can to be even more effective in communicating what Christ is doing in response to our mission efforts.
WR: As KBC president, how would you champion the Mission Board’s three primary emphases of church revitalization, missions and evangelism, and church planting?
Langley: This is the heart of what we must be about! These three things have been my heartbeat in the churches I have pastored. I have participated in planting a number of churches here in the states, as well as internationally. Recently, Severns Valley Baptist Church planted two churches in an “unchurched” area of Nicaragua. Both of those churches are experiencing phenomenal growth and, constantly, share with us the stories of those who are coming to Christ and following Him in Baptism. I have also, personally, been involved in church revitalization. We are seeing this hard work bear much fruit. Missions and evangelism must be the lifeblood of our convention, because it is the heartbeat of the Great Commission. I will do all I can to champion and embolden these efforts.
WR: In what ways, do you see the role of KBC president in coming alongside Oneida Bible Institute, Clear Creek Bible College, University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky Baptist Foundation, Kentucky Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union and the Western Recorder?
Langley: The call to preach and minister also contains the call to prepare. Kentucky is blessed to have Oneida Bible Institute, Clear Creek Bible College, and the University of the Cumberlands to assist us in this great purpose. I love students. It is always a joy to speak with them as individuals, as well as in group settings. As president of the KBC, I would gladly make myself available to serve as an encourager to these institutions in every way possible. All the agencies of the KBC serve important purposes as they function in alignment with the overall purpose of carrying out the Great Commission. My goal would be to encourage them in that alignment.
WR: If elected, how do you foresee speaking to the next generation of Kentucky Baptist leaders and calling them to be involved in expanding the state convention’s Great Commission efforts? What do you consider the greatest strengths of the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s work?
Langley: I have had the joy of pastoring churches, now, in three different state conventions: Oklahoma, Texas and Kentucky. Therefore, I can tell you from personal experience that the challenge we face of raising up the next generation of leaders is a challenge facing every state convention. Young pastors and leaders have grown up in a different culture from those my age. They may be finding great help, encouragement and support from church planting and revitalization organizations that are outside the Southern Baptist Convention. When possible, we need to develop partnerships with like-minded Great Commission groups. Again, I believe we can accomplish more together than we can on our own. In truth, I am excited to see some of this already happening under the current leadership of the KBC. I believe this kind of thinking is a wonderful strength of our state convention.
WR: What do you see as the key challenges or moral concerns of our day, and how can the KBC president represent Kentucky Baptists in promoting evangelical Christian values across the commonwealth?
Langley: As I indicated in my first paragraph, our nation is in a moral free-fall. We are seeing conservative, Bible-believing Christians and churches under attack like never before. Two years ago, Severns Valley Baptist Church underwent a complete re-write of the church’s constitution and bylaws. We had to specifically address what the Bible teaches concerning current hot topic issues, such as the sanctity of life, marriage as a union between a man and a woman, homosexuality and gender identification struggles. These were things most churches never even thought of as needing to be addressed when they originally adopted their constitution and bylaws. I will do all I can to help educate pastors and church leaders about what can be done to fortify the biblical stand their church takes in its community. But above all, my goal will be endeavoring to see that, what we do, we do in the fullness of grace and truth.
Carrying out the Great Commission has never been comfortable or easy. Jesus never promised it would be. However, He did promise He would be with us! By the grace of God, with the presence and power of Christ, may we run this next leg of the race with great boldness and effectiveness!