Stephen Rummage, pastor of North Carolina’s largest Baptist church, will become pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., after the congregation called him May 3.
Rummage, who has shared pastoral responsibilities with Joe Brown at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte received 99.8 percent affirmation in the call and will preach his first sermon as pastor of the large church southeast of Tampa on June 28.
His final sermon at the Hickory Grove North Campus will be May 10 and at the main campus May 17.
“From the very first time we met with the committee from Bell Shoals we felt this was something the Lord had for us,” Rummage said May 7. “It surprised us, because we’ve loved where we’ve been serving so much.”
Bell Shoals Baptist Church has been without a senior pastor since the deadly private plane accident of Forrest Pollock outside of Asheville May 12, 2008. Forrest, 44, and his son Preston, 13, were killed. Last August the church’s pastor of music and worship, Simeon Nix, 47, died of a heart attack.
Rummage graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He holds the M. Div. with a specialization in biblical languages from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and completed the Ph. D. in preaching and theology in 1998 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rummage, a member of the Biblical Recorder board of directors, has served pastorates in North Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia. Before going to Hickory Grove Rummage was director of the Doctor of Ministry program and professor of preaching at Southeastern. His book, Planning Your Preaching, is used widely as a seminary and college textbook.
Rummage and his wife Michele have one son, Joshua. Mrs. Rummage is a member of North Carolina Baptists’ Council on Christian Higher Education.
Bell Shoals Baptist Church, at 2102 Bell Shoals in Brandon, has a membership of 8,000. A second campus related to Bell Shoals in Gibsonton is a separate church with its own pastor, according to Rummage. A Bell Shoals news release referred to the campus as a second site.
Early in Rummage’s tenure at Hickory Grove, a congregation of 16,000, he was the preaching pastor, sharing the pulpit with Brown, who retained staff oversight responsibilities. Within the past year, Rummage had assumed the staff oversight role.