John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church, announced Sunday, Oct. 14 that he will be preaching “in view of a call” at a church out of state the following week. He told the Biblical Recorder that, due to the potential transition, he is withdrawing his candidacy for president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
John Mark Harrison, left, and Steve Scoggins, right
“I asked the church to pray for me that I would be able to hear the Lord’s leading. I am very thankful for a loving church family that has been nothing but supporting and encouraging,” Harrison said. “They are wonderful people who are kingdom-minded and desire for the kingdom of God to advance.”
Michael Barrett, who intended to nominate Harrison, told the Recorder he will now nominate Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, for BSC president. Barrett is the outgoing pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. He plans to retire at the end of this month.
Barrett commended the Cooperative Program (CP) giving record of FBC Hendersonville and described Scoggins as an excellent candidate for the office, someone with a “great heart for his church” and a “creative mind” who would continue to invest in young leaders.
“He’s committed to God’s Word, dedicated to missions and evangelism, and dedicated to being a good shepherd,” Barrett said. “His skills put him in a position to step in and give good leadership to our convention at this time. He will strive to bring young pastors to the table to help serve and lead our convention.”
On hearing the news of Scoggins candidacy, Harrison said, “I’m grateful for the passion of men like Barrett and Scoggins who are reaching out to the next generation and embracing younger leaders.
“These guys have a track record of leading well and serving our churches and convention well, so I’m excited to see them continue on that course.”
FBC Hendersonville gave more than $370,000 through the CP in 2017, according to BSC financial records. The 4,000-plus member church has recorded approximately two-dozen baptisms for the past five years in the Annual Church Profile, but nearly tripled that number for 2018.
In a statement to the Recorder, Scoggins said he is disappointed Harrison would not have an opportunity to serve as president of the state convention, explaining that Harrison “would have been a great leader for our convention.”
Scoggins also emphasized that he is honored to be considered for the role and wants to hold up the members of his congregation as examples to other N.C. Baptist churches, due to their commitment to CP giving and missions involvement.
He gave five reasons why he agreed to serve as BSC president, if elected:
“The reason I was asked has as much to do with the church I serve as my own personal ministry. The First Baptist Church in Hendersonville is an example of what we want churches to be in our convention. We are strong financial supporters of the Cooperative Program and of Baptist missions. But our church goes well beyond giving its finances. Hundreds of our people each year are involved in mission work in our state and overseas as well. In every sense, FBC is a missional church.
“I love the work of both our Southern Baptist Convention and our state convention. Because of that, I love the lifeline for that work found in the Cooperative Program. Giving to the Cooperative Program enables each church to not only touch the world in missions, but to provide a balanced way to meet needs both here in our state and nation and around the world.
“I love the diversity that we find in our present day work as Baptists. First Baptist is a traditional Sunday School based church. Most of our churches are churches like First Baptist. But I have a son in law who served on staff with J.D. Greear at The Summit Church and another who serves on staff with Elevation Church in Charlotte. I believe God is working through both traditional and contemporary styled churches. We need all kinds of churches to reach the people in N.C.
“I love encouraging pastors. One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the privilege of teaching future pastors at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. I am actively involved in my own local association and love the fellowship opportunities it gives to be with fellow pastors.
“I would take this responsibility with no other agenda than being a cheerleader for what God is doing through Baptist missions and a strong desire to see Jesus exalted both in North Carolina and around the world.”
Scoggins is a graduate of Samford University near Birmingham, Ala., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has served on staff at churches in Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia and North Carolina. He was pastor of FBC Hendersonville from 1992-2001 and again from 2014 to present. Scoggins has also spent more than 10 years teaching classes at Fruitland Baptist Bible College.
He has served on the board of directors for the Biblical Recorder and The Alabama Baptist news journals, and served in denominational roles for the Alabama State Board of Missions and Southern Baptist Convention.
Scoggins and his wife, Karen, have five grown children and 11 grandchildren.
Harrison plans to remain on the schedule to deliver the convention sermon at the BSC annual meeting Nov. 5-6 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C. Convention preachers are elected up to two years in advance by messengers to the annual meeting.