By Bob Allen
Veteran pastor Doug Dortch has been selected to be in line as 26th moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Dortch, senior minister of Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., will be nominated as moderator-elect of the Decatur, Ga.,-based CBF at the group’s 2015 General Assembly June 15-19 in Dallas. If elected he would ascend to the role of moderator — the Fellowship’s highest elected office — in 2016.
The current moderator, Pastor Kasey Jones of National Memorial Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., will preside at the 25th annual gathering of the 1,800-church Fellowship formed in 1991.
Today the Fellowship relates to 18 state and regional organizations, more than 750 endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, nearly 50 ministry partners — including 14 seminaries and theology schools — and 125 field personnel serving in more than 30 countries around the world.
Matt Cook, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C., and current moderator-elect, will assume the role of moderator at the conclusion of the General Assembly.
Dortch, a current member of the CBF Governing Board, has been active in the Fellowship since its early years. Before becoming pastor at Mountain Brook in 2011, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Fla., for 17 years.
An Alabama native, Dortch graduated from the University of Montevallo before earning two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in preaching from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
After serving at several churches in Kentucky, he returned to Alabama in 1987 as pastor of First Baptist Church of Elba before moving to Trinity Baptist Church in Madison in 1990. He was called to Tallahassee in 1994.
His leadership positions include the education commission and state board of missions for the Alabama Baptist Convention, the CBF Coordinating Council, Baptist Center for Ethics board, Baptists Today board of directors and the board of visitors for Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta. Currently he chairs an ad hoc task force developing a sustainable CBF funding strategy over the next five years.
“I have been a part of CBF life from its inception, so I am privileged to have been nominated to this place of service for an organization that I believe represents the best of our Christian witness as Baptists,” Dortch said. “As CBF marks its 25th anniversary and moves into the next chapter of our story, I am enthusiastic over what we stand to accomplish together because of the many vibrant and capable leaders I see emerging from our midst.”
Dortch’s name heads the report of a committee chaired by Valerie Burton, minister of Christian formation at Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham, Ala., of nominees to serve on the CBF Governing Board, Missions Council and Ministries Council. The list will be presented for approval at the CBF General Assembly June 19.
Events and accommodations at this year’s General Assembly are under one roof at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
General session highlights include a commissioning service of chaplains, pastoral counselors, church starters and field personnel on Wednesday evening and co-preaching by George Mason, senior pastor of Dallas’ Wilshire Baptist Church, and Gary Simpson, senior pastor of the historic Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Thursday evening.
Three CBF leaders will preach Friday evening. They are Preston Clegg, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.; Julie Merritt Lee, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C.; and Jim Somerville, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.
Related events include a Wednesday afternoon leadership institute led by David Wilhite, associate professor of Christian theology at Baylor University and its Truett Seminary, on holistic preaching, and a three-day prayer retreat using Dawnings, a CBF resource for churches.
College and graduate students will discuss a Christian response to mental health at the Dallas Sessions at Cliff Temple Baptist Church June 15-19.
Marvin McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., will be keynote speaker at the Religious Liberty Council luncheon on Friday, June 19, sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.
A dinner on June 18 hosted by Baptist News Global will feature Louise Troh and Christine Wicker, co-authors of a book on America’s first Ebola patient.
The meeting includes more than 80 workshops spanning four sessions during the afternoons of June 18-19 on topics including a panel discussion of LGBT persons and the church and an offsite payday lending tour.