Lee Brand Jr., vice president and dean of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS), will be nominated as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the SBC’s annual meeting June 15-16 in Nashville, Pastor James Lewis has announced. Javier Chavez, church planter and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Amistad Cristiana International in Gainesville, Ga., will be nominated as second vice president by a separate group.
Lewis, pastor of DeSoto Hills Baptist Church in Southaven, Miss., where Brand attends, described Brand as “a fellow pilgrim who walks beside his pastor encouraging me along the way. He has a deep and growing passion for God’s Word, God’s people and God’s servants. He believes strongly in the inerrant and sufficient message of God’s Word and the mission of the local church. In his role at the seminary, he is helping equip a new generation of church leaders for Bible-based, Spirit-led and God-honoring ministry.”
The SBC’s Annual Church Profile shows a membership of 1,494 and weekly attendance of 648 at DeSoto Hills in 2019. The church that year gave 10.1% of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program in 2019 and reported 17 baptisms.
“I am honored by this opportunity to serve,” said Brand, who also serves on the steering council of the newly formed Conservative Baptist Network (CBN). “When I was first approached, I bathed the matter in much prayer before I accepted. The goals and focus of my ministry are the Word of God and service to others. It will be my pleasure to serve the SBC if elected, and I will do so through prayer and faithful application of God’s Word.”
Michael Spradlin, president of MABTS, called Brand “the ideal seminary dean because of his passion for the Bible, love for the local church, and his courage to stand on the truth of Scripture against any and all falsehoods even if he stands alone.
“Brand represents what our convention needs. He is a capable and humble leader with a passion for training pastors and seeing the world reached for Jesus. Brand bases his life on the sufficiency of scripture which is an example to us all.”
Saved at 12 and called to preach at 17, Brand began pastoring Beth-el Missionary Baptist Church in rural central Mississippi at age 22. He continued to pastor the same church for almost 20 years until his call to MABTS. During his time as a pastor, the church grew from an average attendance of about 75 to 600, as Brand focused on preaching the complete Word of God and leading his church to evangelize their community.
Javier Chavez, 44, is a visiting professor of global missions at Truett-McConnell University in Cleveland, Ga., as well as a member of the steering council of the CBN.
Chavez, a former missionary kid, immigrated to the U.S. as a transfer college student and went on to pursue master and doctoral studies at Wheaton College and Biola University. He met his wife in Chicago. As newlyweds, the couple moved to South America, where they served as missionaries for 13 years.
Rick Portillo, bilingual leader at Southside Church in Athens, Ga., is among those supporting Chavez’s nomination.
“Our generation has a voice in our denomination, and we are so excited to use it by nominating Pastor Javier Chavez,” Portillo said. “He is a man of faith and clear convictions. His gospel-driven commitment to further God’s Kingdom has been inspiring to witness. His unwavering persistence to assist, connect, encourage, pray for and equip pastors has not been seen before in Georgia. Pastor Javier is a man of wisdom and problem-solving qualities that will help enhance our SBC commitment to tell the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the world.”
Amistad Cristiana, planted in August 2016, has become one of the fastest growing churches in northeast Georgia, recording an average of 52 baptisms per year. According to the SBC’s 2019 Annual Church Profile, the church has a membership and weekly attendance of 185 and contributed 5.6 % of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.
“We are the example of an SBC church planted with no funding from national convention sources but with the sacrifice of its people, and still, gladly cooperating with our convention,” Chavez said.
Truett McConnell graduate students Bree Samples and Rachel Durham are also in the group backing Chavez.
“I support the nomination of Javier Chavez because I truly believe that he desires to see the next generation of believers be educated and equipped with everything necessary to carry out the Great Commission in their daily lives,” Samples said. “He will be very influential in helping our convention further fulfill the Great Commission both locally and globally.”