John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, will be nominated for president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) at the November annual meeting, Michael Barrett announced today (July 11).
Photo courtesy of Apex Baptist
Harrison, 37, will “create unity and renew our vision for reaching the lost, for doing missions and for working together as churches at this critical time,” said Barrett, senior pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. Barrett indicated in a call to the Biblical Recorder that he plans to nominate Harrison.
“Our convention has a godly heritage,” Barrett said. “We’ve had some struggles and seen changes that needed to happen. Now, I believe we’re at a critical time of having to create a passion among all pastors – young and old. I think John Mark brings to the table that ability.”
Harrison has served as lead pastor of Apex Baptist since 2012. It is one of the top Cooperative Program-giving churches in the state, with more than $300,000 given last year, according to BSC financial records.
The 2,500-plus member church has set an upward trend in membership and baptism numbers since 2013, recording nearly 150 baptisms last year, according to Annual Church Profile data.
In his four-year tenure on the BSC board of directors, Harrison served the past two years as vice president. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside N.C. Baptists as they “continually pursue the vision of impacting lostness through disciple-making.”
Harrison also helped launch North Carolina’s Young Pastors Network (YPN) in 2016 with Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex. The group’s goal is to help church leaders build relationships, share resources, learn from one another and talk about how to “steward our future together,” they told the Recorder last year.
Barrett described the YPN as the “heartbeat” of the convention’s future.
“In my mind, time is running out for our opportunity to impact lostness in our state. We need new leadership to help us be renewed in our vision,” Barrett said. “We need to make sure everybody is at the table. It’s a new day – a challenging day. We need somebody who will seek the Lord, and that’s what John Mark does.”
In addition to the YPN, Harrison worked with a young leader initiative in 2017 co-sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC) and North American Mission Board. A corresponding group served as an advisory council to the EC, producing research based on an online survey and “working to provide concrete ways for young leaders to actively be involved in the life of the convention,” said EC staff.
When asked what he would emphasize if elected as BSC president, Harrison said, “I’m praying God would spark in our churches a fresh evangelistic passion to reach the lost and impact local communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Harrison holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. He has previously served as student pastor for Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, and campus pastor for Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C. He and his wife, Brigitte, have two children.
Three current BSC officers – Lee Pigg, president, Joel Stephens, first vice president, and J.D. Grant, second vice president – recently announced they are not running for office in 2018. Harrison is the first announced candidate for BSC president in 2018.
Harrison was elected by messengers in 2017 to preach the convention sermon at the 2018 BSC annual meeting Nov. 5-6 in Greensboro, N.C.