Historic First Baptist Dallas names Robert Jeffress as senior pastor

DALLAS (ABP) -- First Baptist Church in Dallas has called one of its own products, Robert Jeffress, to become its new senior pastor.

According to a statement on the church's website, more than 3,000 congregants affirmed the 51-year-old at an Aug. 12 service in First Baptist's storied sanctuary.

Jeffress is currently the pastor of First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas. He attended First Baptist Dallas as a child and had previously worked there as a youth minister, according to the Dallas Morning News .

First Baptist has been without a senior pastor since early 2006, when Mac Brunson left to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Bill Anderson served as pastor during the interim.

Legendary ministers W.A. Criswell and George Truett -- each of whom led the Dallas for roughly a half-century -- rose to denomination-wide fame from its pulpit. The church has been a fixture since 1868 in downtown Dallas, where its current campus covers six city blocks. The evangelist Billy Graham has been a member of the congregation since the 1950s.

But First Baptist has lost some of its luster in recent years. The 10,000 members it currently claims comprise less than half its peak membership, which came under Criswell. The church has had a string of short-term pastors since he retired in 1995.

Jeffress earned degrees from Baylor University, Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He hosts a Christian television program called Pathway to Victory.

Jeffress and his wife, Amy, have two daughters. He will begin full-time ministry at the church Sept. 16.