PHOENIX — Two Southern Baptists who exemplify dedication and
sacrifice were honored during the afternoon session of the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC) annual meeting June 14.
Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, was
among 10 Baptists arrested in Haiti on Jan. 30, 2010, for allegedly not having
proper documentation to take orphans to the neighboring Dominican Republic, a
charge later dropped by Haitian authorities.
SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page praised Thompson as “a Cooperative
Program supporting pastor” who “believes in doing missions, giving to missions,
and praying for missions.”
Page called Thompson, a bivocational pastor who drives a school bus to support
his family, to the platform and the audience gave him a sustained round of
applause. He thanked the crowd and stated: “I have never been so proud to be a
Southern Baptist as I was in the 19 days in a lonely but yet God-filled prison
cell in Haiti. I bless the Lord for Southern Baptists and for … our
cooperative work together. May the name of our Lord be greatly glorified on all
Page also called Ken Hemphill, the former national strategist for Southern
Baptists’ Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) initiative, and read a resolution of
appreciation adopted the previous day by the Executive Committee. The
resolution praised Hemphill for his “outstanding and exemplary leadership” of
EKG and “unflagging devotion to, and exemplary sacrifice in, advancing God’s
Kingdom for His glory.”
Hemphill served Southern Baptists at the national level for 19 years, first as
leader of the Center for Church Growth at the Home Mission Board (now North
American Mission Board), then as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Texas before taking on the EKG role with the Executive Committee.
After a warm ovation from the audience, Hemphill said, in an emotion-filled
voice, it had been “a singular privilege … to serve our Southern Baptist Convention.”
Page also introduced a brief video in which Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Church
in Lebanon, Tenn., explained why he is passionate about Southern Baptist
“Everything has issues. There are things that need to be dealt with and
improved,” said Akin, who also is a leader in the Baptist21 mission initiative.
“The reason I love the Cooperative Program is that it allows us to do church
planting, theological education and international missions better than anyone
else on the planet…. It allows us to do so many things — and to do them well
and to do them together — better than anybody else.”
Messengers also approved three Executive Committee recommendations about future
meetings dates and locations for the annual meeting: St. Louis, June 14-15,
2016; Phoenix, June 13-14, 2017; and Dallas, June 12-13, 2018.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.)