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Jackson elected president of state conventioncomment (0)

November 27, 2008

By Jennifer Davis Rash

Jimmy Jackson can’t talk about the inner-city ministry his church is doing in the Huntsville area without wiping away a few tears.

“We are looking for people whose gutters are falling off, whose steps are rotted out and whose bathrooms are rotting out,” Jackson said. “We are taking a dozen of those houses at a time, taking our people out to tour them … to see how they live … and they are stepping up to help.”

Some pick up a hammer and go to work, while some give money to assist the effort, but all who go out are helping in some way, he said.

“We are doing it to say Christianity works because Christians work,” said Jackson, senior pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, in Madison Baptist Association.

But his church is not doing this alone, he noted.

“We are seeing [similar actions] in our state,” which is what “I want to encourage and support,” Jackson said in an interview following his Nov. 19 election as president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. “I want to continue what we have been moving toward as a state convention — get out there where the people really are and take the love of Christ to them.”

Jackson, 69, who was elected during the state convention annual meeting at First Baptist Church, Montgomery, said that while he has resisted being nominated for state convention president in years past, he looks forward to serving this next year.

“It will be a great honor for our church and our people” in the Huntsville area, Jackson said, noting he is only the second convention president from Madison Association, one of the oldest of the state’s associations. Dan Ireland, retired executive director of Alabama Citizens Action Program, was the first, serving in 1976 and 1977 when he was pastor of Jackson Way Baptist Church, Huntsville.

Jackson hopes to be a pastor to the pastors while in the position.

“I think the younger pastors really want to be in a longer-lasting ministry today,” he said. And with his 30 years at Whitesburg Baptist, Jackson certainly has a long tenure at one church.

“There comes a point in your life where you lead more by who you are than what you do,” he explained. “If you haven’t established who you are, then you shouldn’t be in a place of leadership.

“It is a built-in respect,” Jackson said. “You’ve been there. Our people have seen me go through tragedies … such as the death of a child and a son out of the will of God.

“Younger pastors really need to see that, that adversity is not intended to put us on the sidelines but to walk humbly before the Lord.”

Dick Thomassian, a member and retired staff member of Whitesburg, is one who has walked with Jackson through experiences.

“Having served with Dr. Jackson as his associate (on staff at Whitesburg) from 1978 to 2006, I can tell you he is an expository preacher, a teacher of God’s Word, a prayer warrior, a soul winner, a pastor and counselor blessed with God’s wisdom,” Thomassian said as he nominated Jackson for president.

“He is a pastor’s pastor, a friend and has a Christlike spirit,” Thomassian said. “He is admirably leading Whitesburg in missions investment and involvement, giving 14 percent of the budget to missions ... and involved at all levels — local, state, national and international.”

Jackson pointed out the large number of people who stood during the Tuesday evening session of the convention to note they had participated in a missions trip or project. “Ninety to 95 percent (of the 2,000) people stood,” he said.
“These are people who are not only involved in convention meetings but are out there doing (the work we talk about).

“It’s the most impressive thing I’ve seen at a state convention or Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting,” Jackson said.

In fact, he said the move toward putting church members on the missions field during the last 15 years has proven to be “one of the greatest changes that has taken place in our (Southern Baptist) convention.”

“Our people need hands-on missions,” Jackson said.

A native of Greenwood, Miss., and graduate of Mississippi College in Clinton, Jackson holds a divinity degree and doctorate in Hebrew and Old Testament from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

He served as first vice president of the SBC in 2006–2007 and has been an SBC parliamentarian for more than 20 years. Jackson is a former member of the SBC Executive Committee and a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

He served Union Baptist Church, Grand Bay, for seven and a half years right out of seminary and then two churches in Florida before coming to Whitesburg in 1978. Jackson previously served as first vice president of the ABSC for the past two years and served one year as second vice president before that.

He and his wife, Bobbi, have three children (one deceased) and six grandchildren.

Also elected to serve were:
• Mike Shaw, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pelham, as first vice president. He previously served two years as second vice president.

• John Killian, pastor of Maytown Baptist Church, as second vice president. He served as president of the Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference in 2006.

• Mary Sue Bennett of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) as recording secretary.

• Bobby DuBois of the SBOM as statistical secretary.

• Billy Austin, president of the Alabama Baptist Retirement Centers, as registration secretary.

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